Lebanon Elections: Hezbollah Poised to Expand Clout in Parliament

Lebanon votes in first election in a decade

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. It was also the first time in Lebanese history that expats were allowed to vote.

The country has periodically been an arena for the intense regional competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

A politician accused a rival party of assaulting her supporters.

Major players in this year's election include the Future Movement, led by incumbent Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri; the Free Patriotic Movement, led by Christian President Aoun's son-in-law Gebran Bassil; the Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed powerful Shiite political faction; the Amal Movement, led by incumbent Speaker Nabih Berri; and the Lebanese Forces, a Christian opponent of Hezbollah.

But some other voters were sceptical the election signalled an improvement in Lebanon's political climate.

Lebanon's Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk says provisional voter turnout figure of the country's parliamentary elections was 49.2 percent.

Machnouk said official results were expected at 4 a.m. local time Monday (9 p.m. ET Sunday).

Under the new proportional system, parliamentary seats are distributed among candidate lists in proportion to the votes cast for the relevant lists.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to back President Bashar Assad's forces, a move that has been criticized by many Lebanese, mainly Sunni Muslims and Christians, who see the group as dragging the country into regional conflicts.

Lebanon held a much-delayed general election Sunday, with a new civil society list hoping for a breakthrough but traditional parties expected to renew their fragile power-sharing bargain.

Mona Fayed, who was voting in the gritty, working-class Zaqaq Al-Blat area, said she knew people in her area who had been paid by election campaigns to go and vote.

Voters are registered not where they live, but in the district their ancestors came from, meaning large numbers of voters have to travel from the capital Beirut to villages across the country.

In an interview with leading Hezbollah candidate Ali Ammar Sunday morning, a Lebanese journalist grilled him on corruption allegations against a political ally.

As Hariri entered a public college in Beirut to vote, a lady in a wheelchair complained that polling stations weren't geared up for disabled voters.

Rival blocs in parliament could not agree on a new president between 2014-16 and repeatedly made a decision to delay elections, partly because of disagreement over moving from a winner-takes-all to a proportional voting system. They wore yellow shirts with the slogan "We defend and construct" written on them.

Outside polling stations, Hezbollah supporters displayed a replica of the voting ballot on a big board and explained to voters which among the color-coded lists was theirs and how to vote for it. Last November, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman summoned Mr. Hariri to Riyadh, where, under pressure, he resigned for the apparent sin of having accommodated Hezbollah. Prior to now, the successful checklist took all of the seats within the electoral district.

The change cracked open the door for more outsiders to compete in elections, challenging political titans who have long ruled Lebanon based on a sectarian and family patronage system.

As the agency specified, the queues have been so long that some people have urged for voting hours to be extended.

More than 3.7 million Lebanese are eligible to vote, and will choose from 597 candidates who are running on 77 closed lists for a seat in the 128-strong Parliament.

The legislature's term was supposed to expire in 2013, but lawmakers approved several extensions since then, citing security concerns linked to the spillover from Syria's war. That, along with the new electoral law, has injected some unpredictability to the process.

Related News:



Most liked

27 reportedly killed as gunmen invade Kaduna village
Kaduna State Police Commissioner Austin Iwar, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, confirmed the 45 casualty figure. Residents said the killings occurred around 2:30 p.m. when the bandits stormed the village in large numbers on motorcycles.

Gunfight between security forces and militants in Indian Kashmir
Officials say fighting in Kashmir has left 120 dead so far this year, including 22 civilians, 67 militants and 28 security forces. In the clashes that followed, five civilians were killed by the armed forces. "We gave them a chance to surrender".

Rihanna and Drake Not on Friendly Terms Anymore After #MTVVMAs2016?
She's been thinking more seriously about taking care of herself since she celebrated her birthday in NY this past Februrary. It looks like fans who are still hoping that Rihanna and Drake will eventually end up together are out of luck.

Big Read, Cinco de Mayo hold celebrations at Carson City Library
Despite the misconceptions, 70 percent of Americans said they plan to celebrate. According to the report, half of all states were most concerned about food.

Russian opposition leader detained at Moscow protest
When they chanted "we're fed up", one elderly man said, "I was fed up 10 years ago". Putin served his first two presidential terms from 2000 to 2008.

Israeli army opens fire on Gaza protesters sixth week in a row
Due to strong winds from the east, smoke from their burning tires and tear gas pushed numerous Gazans back from the fence. Demonstrators burn tires, throw stones and Molotov cocktails, set fire to the kites and try to damage the border fence.

Manchester United fans tear into defender after Brighton loss: "Woeful", "Awful"
Prior to the match, Chris Hughton needed three points from their remaining three games to secure Premier League survival. The loss completed a hat-trick of defeats to the three newly promoted teams (Huddersfield, Newcastle, and Brighton ).

Arizona teachers hold fourth day of walkouts
The Peoria Unified School District said it would close Thursday after it previously said it would re-open. The striking teachers, however, say they will stick to the demand for increased school funding as well.

Tesla Model Y SUV production rescheduled for 2020
The California company is still struggling to ramp up the Model 3 production, for which it has received almost 500,000 pre-orders. RBC Capital's Joseph Spak then asked about how many Model 3 reservations had been converted into orders for the electric auto .

Trump Administration Delays Tariffs on Some Countries
Robert Lighthizer avoided saying whether the administration would be willing to extend again the one-month delay in the tariffs. Trade representatives from both countries released a joint statement at the end of March, but details have not been released.

HSBC's pre-tax Q1 profits fall by 4 percent
The bank's profit shrank mainly as a almost 13 percent rise in operating expenses outpaced revenue growth of 5.5 percent. Analysts had previously expected the bank to report a pre-tax profit of $5.7bn.

Federal Judge Questions Mueller's Powers in Manafort Case
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also downplayed Manafort's involvement with the campaign in a press briefing. Mueller also accused Manafort of secretly paying former European politicians to lobby on behalf of Ukraine.

Grand Rapids Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Saturday, May 12
Hunger affects about 50 million people around the country, including millions of children, senior citizens and veterans. The National Association of Letter Carriers is holding its annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Saturday, May 12.

Window crack on Southwest Airlines flight prompts unplanned landing
Spokeswoman Brandy King also says the pilots didn't declare an emergency before landing Wednesday morning. One of them, Alejandro Aguina , tweeted: 'On my way to NJ for work and #Southwest957 gets a window crack.

SEC Subpoenas Jay Z to Testify in Iconix Fraud Investigation
And just a year ago , the company triggered another Rocawear write-off to the tune of $34 million. Carter is a private citizen who should not be involved in this matter", they add.