Published: Tue, May 08, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Hezbollah makes strong showing in Lebanon elections

Hezbollah makes strong showing in Lebanon elections

Hariri looks to be the next prime minister, but cabinet choices are not yet determined due to the Shi'ite Hezbollah bloc majority.

In a televised statement Monday, Hariri said "my hand is extended to every Lebanese who participated in the elections to preserve stability and create jobs". The latter is a good friend of the Saudis, and so is former prime minister Najib Mikati, who swept all seats in Tripoli in northern Lebanon, signaling that Saudi Arabia's long-time favoritism for Hariri has waned.

In line with the "national pact" dating from independence in 1943, the president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the parliament speaker a Shiite.

Lebanon's sectarian-based power-sharing politics mean no single alliance in the 128-seat parliament will enjoy a stable majority and analysts expect a fragile status quo to be preserved.


The polls were also marked by a low turnout of 49.2 percent and the emergence of a civil society movement challenging Lebanon's oligarchs that could clinch a pair of seats in parliament.

Formed as a resistance movement during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s, Hezbollah is today a political, military and social organisation that wields considerable power in the country.

The prime minister stressed that he was an ally of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who is a central figure in the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Christian party, though the differences with the Hezbollah Shiite party, a longtime ally of the FPM, would remain.

What happened in Lebanon's elections is also an extension to what has been taking place in Syria, Iraq and Yemen: The advancement of Iran-backed groups.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia and Israel have become increasingly alarmed about Iran's growing influence in the Arab world, and they are likely to see further evidence of this in the election results. Khashouq, from the town of Zahle in the country's Bekaa Valley, said he was not voting in the elections after feeling his vote was wasted in 2009, the last time elections were held.

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If official results expected in the afternoon confirm Hezbollah's own estimates, the movement which Iran is essentially using for external operations will be better positioned to fend off any suggestion it should disarm.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah group and its political allies made significant gains in Sunday's parliamentary elections in Lebanon while the main Western-backed faction lost a third of its seats, according to preliminary results released Monday.

It is the first election in the country for nine years.

Independent candidates running against the political establishment may have won two seats in Beirut.

Among the Christians, the right-wing Lebanese Forces party did particularly well, appearing to nearly double its number of seats from eight to 15.

A woman shows her ink-stained finger after casting her vote during the parliamentary election in Beirut, Lebanon.

Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk announced the turnout figure at a news conference shortly after midnight and appeared to blame it on the new electoral law agreed past year.

The elections were the first since war broke out in neighbouring Syria in 2011, sending over 1 million refugees to Lebanon, a small country with a population estimated at around 4.5 million.

Senior political leaders, including Hariri himself and Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk whose task it was to supervise the vote, admitted that new voting rules tested for the first time had been perplexing for the electorate.

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