53Lebanon Preliminary Election Results Show Victory of Hezbollah, Allies
08 May, 2018, 01:50 | Author: Irene Delgado
Hariri's Future Movement picked up only 21 seats this election, whereas in the last round of parliamentary elections the bloc picked up 33 seats and held a previous anti-Hezbollah coalition known as the "March 14 Alliance", supported by Saudi Arabia. Hours after the results were announced, Education Minister Naftali Bennet said: "Lebanon = Hezbollah" noting that Tel Aviv will not differentiate between the sovereign state of Lebanon and the party that now controls its Legislative Branch. The Hezbollah leader called it "political and moral victory" for the resistance.
Sunday's election took place for the first time after nine years of political turbulence that left the country without a president for two years and saw parliament extend its tenure several times.
Hezbollah's powerful position in Lebanon reflects Iran's regional ascendancy in territory stretching through Iraq and Syria to Beirut.
While returning many of Lebanon's power brokers to office, the elections also brought in new faces. Of the 3.8 million Lebanese citizens who were registered to vote, some 800,000 cast their ballots for the first time at the 6,800 polling stations. It is listed as a terror organisation by the United States.
But Hezbollah lost ground in one of its strongholds, the Baalbek-Hermel constituency, where it lost two of 10 seats, one of them to Lebanese Forces.
Hezbollah, which was created in the 1980s to fight against Israel and now battles in Syria alongside regime forces, is listed as a terror organisation by the United States, while the European Union lists Hezbollah's military wing as a terrorist, differentiating between its military activities and political.
The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections reported over 7,000 polling violations in Sunday's elections.
Hezbollah-backed winners include Jamil al-Sayyed, a retired general and former Lebanese intelligence chief who is a close friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the unofficial results.
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The drop came despite a reformulated electoral law created to encourage voting through proportional representation.
This year's vote was according to a new election law providing for proportional representation for the first time.
The Free Patriotic Movement was the second largest in the outgoing parliament after Prime Minister Saad Hariri's bloc, which had 32 seats but appears to have lost a third of them in Sunday's elections.
Among the Christians, the right-wing Lebanese Forces party did particularly well, appearing to nearly double its number of seats from eight to 15.
"We were betting on a better result and a wider bloc with better Christian and Shia representation", he admitted.
The preliminary results show at least one candidate from a civil society list - journalist Paula Yaacoubian - won a seat in the capital Beirut, an area traditionally monopolized by established political parties. Lawmakers extended their own mandate three times since 2009, ostensibly over security concerns linked to neighbouring Syria's war and political divisions that led to long and crippling institutional crises.
Elsewhere in the country, freaky "collusive" local lists were formed among traditional establishment foes to ensure the three main religious blocs of Shi'ites, Sunnis and Christians wouldn't be disrupted too much by the new electoral law. The people needed this cold shower to clean the wounds of the election campaigns and, most importantly, to wake up, contemplate and perhaps understand what the results of the voting process mean and how the consequences will play out in the future.
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