Lebanon Election: As voting closes in Lebanon, major changes seems unlikely.
Kathmandu: Following an increase in diaspora voting last week, voter turnout was expected to be higher on Sunday.
According to the foreign ministry, 142,000 out of 244,442 registered expatriate voters headed to polls last week across 48 nations, resulting in a 63.05% turnout.
This was more than three times the participation of the diaspora in Lebanon’s previous elections in 2018, when voter turnout was slightly under 50%.
In Lebanon, voters crammed into polling stations with no electricity and limited stationery, the lack of facilities however was compensated mostly by a sense of hope.
The first parliamentary election since Lebanon’s economy began to collapse in late 2019, resulting in hundreds of thousands of people protesting in the streets against the country’s government, ended on Sunday evening.
Voter turnout was 41%, according to the Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi, and with just a few polling stations still unaccounted for, no big changes are expected. The voter turnout was lower than the 49% recorded in 2018.
New elections were considered as an opportunity to uproot Lebanon’s political establishment and toss out corrupt sectarian parties and cronies by those who took part in the 2019 protests.
Early on Sunday, however, voters were restraining their expectations.
In the 2018 election, 3.9 million eligible voters chose their favorite representatives among 718 candidates on 103 lists in 15 districts and 27 subdistricts, up from 597 candidates and 77 lists in the previous election.
In a speech on Saturday, President Michel Aoun urged Syrians to vote in huge numbers. “The most honest revolution is the ballot box revolution,” Aoun stated.
The Future Movement presently has two-thirds of the Sunni seats in parliament, including several political parties and candidates swept Sunni areas in Tripoli, Sidon, and Beirut’s second district to try to fill the vacancy.
Hezbollah and Amal members clashed with Christian Lebanese soldiers in the eastern town of Zahle and the southern town of Kfar Melki. According to eyewitnesses, several people were wounded.
Following an increase in Lebanese diaspora voting last week, voter turnout was expected to be higher this year.
Many anti-establishment candidates representing new political groupings and movements are running in this year’s election. Only one non-establishment candidate, former journalist Paula Yacoubian, was elected to the Beirut parliament in 2018.
While observers believe anti-establishment candidates will gain more seats in this election, they believe the power balance will stay unchanged: Hezbollah and its allies will preserve their parliamentary majority.