Lebanese parliament elections ended with no group, party, or coalition securing a majority.
Hezbollah movement managed to keep its grip on the Lebanese parliament following the May 15 election. Hezbollah and its allies feel short of securing the majority, but still they are the first power in legislative chamber.
An announcement by the Lebanese interior ministry confirmed that no major party or movement achieved a majority in the election. The major breakthrough was for independent candidates who won far more seat then the previous term.
Hezbollah coalition won 58 seats in the current election. This is less than 65 seats required for a majority in the parliament, but still the group keeps the upper hand.
Hezbollah’s partner, Free Patriotic Movement, lost Lebanon’s the position as the major Christian parliamentary party. The Movement gained 18 seats in an election in which former prime minister and his party did not attend.
Some other major Hezbollah supporters also lost seats to independent candidates, including in Aley and Tripoli. In Hezbollah’s electoral heartland in southern Lebanon, independent candidates managed to grab two seats from Hezbollah.
16 independent candidates managed to win the seat in legislative chamber in total. This is a 15-seat gain over previous election, which is unprecedented in Lebanese history.
Nine additional candidates who ran on anti-establishment and anti-dominant political party agendas also secured seats. Fouad Makhzoumi, the billionaire tycoon, was among the bunch, as were four other MP-elect from the once-powerful Christian Kataeb Party.
Future Movement was the main and most impressing absentee in the elections. Rarely seen in decades, Lebanon’s largest Sunni party avoided taking part in the legislative elections. Its leader announced his resignation from politics few months ago. Some of Sa’ad Hariri‘s followers agreed to the boycott, but others left the party to run in the polls.
Independents in Lebanese Parliament
Critics and Hariri loyalists worried that Hariri’s resignation would empower Hezbollah’s backers to take advantage of the political void. This would allow them to extend their influence in important constituencies including Tripoli and the capital.
Three independent candidates pushed their way to the Lebanese parliament from Beirut’s 2nd district, a significant electoral bastion for Hariri. With the highest votes, the independent Ibrahim Mneimeh gained a Sunni seat in Beirut’s district.
Mneimeh believes that people desire a novel approach of political management, and he dismissed worries of a Sunni division, as some experts have suggested. “Those who said so were wrong – Beirutis decided to overcome traditional leaders and having to wait for their rights,” he claimed in an interview following the result announcement.
The UN Secretary-General commended the crisis-hit country for conducting the legislative elections. “Despite the challenging circumstances, the authorities demonstrated their commitment to adhere to the Constitution and honor Lebanon’s democratic traditions,” Antonio Guterres asserted in a statement.
Lebanese parliament must now select a fresh PM and facilitate the formation of new cabinet. This is a must for IMF talks to continue. It is critical for making economic and structural reforms that would assist the Lebanese economic sector in recovering after multiple years of turmoil.
The new MPs will also elect a speaker, who will most probably be Nabil Berri, who has served the position for over three decades. Last October, Berri also served as the country’s president for a short period.
Over 70% of the Lebanese population fall in poor category. Lebanon’s 128-member parliament is divided between Muslim and Christian factions. The president is, by tradition, a Maronite Christian, while Sunni Muslims have their representative as the prime minister. The speaker of parliament is a Shiite Muslim, according to the sectarian power-sharing structure.