First legislative election in Lebanon since the onset of the crisis

Lebanese authorities will carry a sealed ballot box to the Sidon polling place in the southern part of the country on May 14, 2022.
Lebanese authorities will carry a sealed ballot box to the Sidon polling place in the southern part of the country on May 14, 2022 (Mahmoud ZAYYAT / AFP).

Lebanese are expected to maintain a favorable position in favor of traditional political forces on Sunday, but will elect parliamentarians in an election responsible for the worst socio-economic crisis in the country’s history. I’m voting.

The election represents the first test of an opposition group that emerged following a popular uprising in October 2019 demanding the withdrawal of a class accused of corruption and incompetence.

From 07:00 (04:00 GMT), the polling place was opened and about 3.9 million voters called on the polling place to renew 128 members of parliament. Results are expected on Monday.

In the midst of political party and volunteer representatives, AFP photographers noticed an important security development.

After voting in Gemmeise, the eastern part of Beirut, Neira, a 28-year-old student, told AFP that “I started voting because there is little I can do in Lebanon.”

“I hope that the expected changes will occur after the difficult years that Lebanon knew,” she added, “in favor of the changes, (…) and made a new face.” ..

According to experts, independent candidates are expected to win more seats than in the previous 2018 elections, but the balance of power is not expected to change significantly.

corruption

Elections are held in accordance with a law adopted in 2017 in the interests of the ruling party, boycotted by Sunni leader Saad Hariri.

Portrait of Hassanna Slara, leader of the Shiite Hezbollah movement in the capital of Lebanon, May 14, 2022
Portrait of Hassan Nasrara, leader of the Shiite Hezbollah movement in the capital of Lebanon, May 14, 2022 (LOUAI BESHARA / AFP)

The 2018 legislative election was dominated by the only Lebanese pro-Iranian Shiite movement Hezbollah and his allies, especially the President’s Free Patriotic Movement (CPL) Michel Aoun, who held weapons after the civil war (1975-1990). And the Amal movement led by Parliamentary Chairman Nabby Beri.

“Paradoxically, the first national elections in Lebanon since the onset of the crisis are unlikely to make a big difference,” said an article posted on the website of the Century Foundation, an American think tank. Researcher Sam Heller writes.

“It seems unlikely that these elections will significantly change the composition of the Lebanese parliament or the way the country politics,” he adds.

The election was held because Lebanon was classified by the World Bank as the worst in the world since 1850 since 2019, and has fallen into a socio-economic crisis caused by decades of mismanagement and ruling class corruption. increase.

Election poster on the bridge across Beirut, May 14, 2022
Election poster on the bridge across Beirut, May 14, 2022 (LOUAI BESHARA / AFP)

In almost two years, the national currency has lost more than 90% of its value in the black market and the unemployment rate has almost tripled. According to the United Nations, nearly 80% of the population now lives below the poverty line.

These were also the first legislative elections since the devastating explosion at Beirut on August 4, 2020, killing more than 200 people and destroying the entire capital.

Many families and young people have left the country due to the free fall of the economy, anxiety, and the collapse of basic public services.

patron

But, like Mariana Vodrian, spokespersons for the families of the victims of the harbor explosion are eager to change through these elections.

“We have ruled us for 30 years and are against this political class that is responsible for the economic collapse and explosion,” a 32-year-old woman told AFP.

“These elections represent an opportunity for change to take responsibility and responsibility so that we can continue to live in this country,” she added.

On May 14, 2022, Lebanese soldiers boarded a bus in the northern city of Tripoli.
Lebanese soldier (Ibrahim CHALHOUB / AFP) sitting on a bus in the northern city of Tripoli on May 14, 2022.

Despite dissatisfaction, class nations are taking advantage of the country’s absence and are currently unable to provide basic services such as electricity, medicines and fuels, revitalizing traditional community-sponsored networks and financing. Assistance that seeks to win the support of voters by providing.

According to experts, an approach that can be rewarded in a serious crisis situation, especially because independent candidates lack experience and resources and do not offer a united front.

In an April survey by NGO Oxfam on turnout, 43.55% of Lebanese said they would abstain. More than half of them justified their decision by the absence of “promising candidates.”

In the legislative elections organized for Lebanese expatriates on May 6 and 8, the participation rate was about 63%.

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