A secular coalition that ran in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections said on Tuesday it will legally challenge the defeat of one of its candidates, slamming the vote count as untransparent. Kulluna Watani, an alliance of civil society activists, had projected it would win at least two seats in the landmark May 6 vote — an achievement in a country with a deeply entrenched political class. But just one candidate, high-profile reporter Paula Yacoubian, scored a spot in the 128-member parliament. A second, writer and feminist activist Joumana Haddad, was expected to win according to several preliminary party counts, and had been tearfully celebrating with supporters on Sunday night. But as official results came in on Monday, it appeared Kulluna Watani had not scored enough votes to secure a second seat for Haddad.
Hezbollah has gained political ground in Lebanon and consolidated Iran’s influence on the fragile state’s affairs after winning, along with its allies, a small majority in national elections. The Shia militia-cum-political bloc’s gains came at the expense of the Sunni prime minister, Saad Hariri, whose authority was weakened by a relatively poor showing in stronghold areas. Many of Hariri’s traditional supporters appear to have stayed at home on Sunday for the first parliamentary vote in nine years. His patron, Saudi Arabia, cut Hariri adrift in November and remained disengaged in the lead-up to the vote. It offered no immediate reaction to the result. Hariri’s bloc, the Future Movement, lost one-third of its seats, and he blamed a “scheme” to “eliminate” it from the political process when speaking on Monday.
Hezbollah and its political allies are the biggest winners in Lebanon’s first general election in nine years, an analysis of the preliminary results show. Hezbollah and Amal – dubbed the “Shia duo” by local news media – are predicted to have won 29 seats in Lebanon’s 128-seat parliament during Sunday’s vote, according to unofficial tallies cited by politicians and local media reports. More than 11 seats are predicted to have been won by other political parties aligned with the duo. The long-awaited elections were marked by a voter turnout of just under 50 percent, down from 54 percent in the last legislative election in 2009, Nouhad Machnouk, Lebanon’s interior minister, said on Monday.
Lebanon’s first national elections in nine years were marked by a tepid turnout Sunday, reflecting voter frustration over endemic corruption and a stagnant economy. Politicians had urged citizens to vote, and security forces struggled to maintain order as fights broke out in and around polling stations. President Michel Aoun broadcast an appeal to voters to participate in a televised address an hour before polls closed in the evening. “If you want change, you should exercise your right” to vote, he said in a message published on Twitter at the same time.
Lebanon is gearing up for parliamentary elections slated for 6 May, with members of the country’s large expatriate community having already cast their votes in elections that have been seeing complex and intertwining alliances. The last time Lebanese politicians competed for seats in parliament was in June 2009. Nine years and a new electoral law later, three main factors have come into play. First, the elections are being held after the ratification of a law granting Lebanese nationality to the offspring of expatriates, pushed for by the Alawite Free Patriotic Movement headed by Foreign Minister Jibran Bassel. The law may attract more Christian voters, since most Lebanese abroad are Christians.
It has been nearly a decade since Lebanese citizens last had the opportunity to go to the polls, with the current parliament having on three separate occasions unilaterally renewed its mandate for reasons ranging from security risks caused by the war in neighboring Syria to the inability to agree on electoral reform. But following an agreement last summer to replace a plurality voting system with proportional representation, elections finally will be held on May 6. The new law also reduced the number of electoral constituencies (which may comprise more than one district) to fifteen, with seats allocated in each according to the size of the region’s population. Furthermore, parliamentary mandates within each constituency are reserved for various sects, including Sunnis, Shiites, Druze, Catholics, Protestants, Greek Orthodox, etc.…
Incidents of political violence including an assault on one candidate and an attack on the office of another are casting a shadow over Lebanon’s first general election in nine years. The May 6 vote will take place using a complicated new electoral law. It is not expected to cause major changes to the government or its policies. Analysts expect Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri will head the next cabinet. But the law has made the outcome less predictable in some places. This has sharpened local rivalries and is encouraging parties to campaign extra hard.
The last parliamentary elections in Lebanon were held nine years ago. Since then, the country has seen its executive body sit vacant for two years, watched parliament extend its tenure twice, and witnessed a prime minister abruptly resign and just as suddenly retract his resignation. A new electoral law, passed last summer, staved off a major political deadlock that threatened to leave the country without a parliament – and the bill set a vote deadline of May 2018. But as the country prepares to put the new electoral law to the test, many Lebanese expressed scepticism and a lack of enthusiasm for the May 6 parliamentary elections.
Members of the ministerial committee charged with examining the implementation of the new electoral law have admitted that it was impossible to apply the technical reforms stipulated in the law, with the parliamentary elections due on May 6. While the committee’s meeting on Tuesday, chaired by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, did not result in any decision on the matter, ministers have expressed clear stances towards the implementation of the reforms, in the wake of sharp disputes over the adoption of the biometric voting card and the mega center, which allows voting in place of residence. Ministerial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that differences persisted over technical reforms, pointing out that any amendment in the law “requires prior agreement before submitting it to Parliament – a task that seems difficult so far.”
On Friday, June 16th, Lebanon quietly ended one of the longest stretches of government paralysis in post-Second World War history. The parliament met to ratify a new electoral law that will govern national elections next year, nearly a decade after the last parliamentary polls were held. The law’s proponents claim that it will improve representation for the many sects that compose the country’s religiously diverse population. They say it also addresses demands by civil-society groups who have railed against the propensity of the political élite to pass power down through the generations and keep reformists at bay. In Beirut, there is both cynicism and optimism about what the new law might deliver. Mostly, though, one senses an uncertainty about the future—a familiar enough feeling in a country that endured a brutal, fifteen-year civil war, but unfamiliar in other ways. There is a genuine wondering-aloud as to whether a new chapter in Lebanon’s history might be about to begin, and some hope that a political system built on the principle of fostering coexistence might be insulated from a region wracked by sectarianism.
A new electoral law is expected to be ratified by Lebanon’s parliament on Friday, paving the way for the first parliamentary elections in eight years. On Wednesday, ministers announced that Lebanon will be holding the long-delayed legislative elections in May 2018 after the country’s cabinet approved a new electoral law, staving off a fresh political crisis that threatened to leave the country without a parliament. The move will also end a stalemate that saw the country’s parliament extend its tenure twice.
Lebanon is likely to hold long-delayed elections in May 2018, ministers said on Wednesday, after the cabinet approved a new law for a legislative vote that has spared the country a major political crisis. Recent disputes over an election law that is at the heart of the nation’s sectarian political system had pushed Lebanon to the brink of crisis, threatening to leave it without a parliament for the first time. The new law will extend parliament’s term by almost a year until next May, avoiding a legislative vacuum when the chamber’s current term ends on June 20. It will create a proportional representation system for parliament and alter the number of districts from which lawmakers are elected, among other changes.
Lebanon’s rival parties reached agreement on Tuesday on an electoral law, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said, staving off a political crisis and paving the way for a parliamentary election. The agreement still needs the approval of the cabinet in a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, and will then be sent to parliament. “Today we have reached a political agreement between the political sides,” said Bassil, an ally of President Michel Aoun. It will take at least seven months to prepare for an election, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced Monday that Lebanon would have a new vote law by Wednesday despite remaining obstacles that could unravel the agreement reached by the country’s top leaders to avert a parliamentary vacuum and clear the way for holding the first elections since 2009. He also said that neither he nor the Future Movement would run the elections under the disputed 1960 majoritarian law used in the last parliamentary elections.
Officials scrambled Friday to smooth the path for the endorsement of a new vote law amid fears that sticking points could unravel the agreement reached by the country’s top leaders at Baabda Palace. A series of important meetings were held Friday between senior officials with each of Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri aimed at speeding up the implementation of the agreement reached by President Michel Aoun, Berri and Hariri at their closed talks before an iftar hosted by the president at Baabda Palace Thursday. Sticking points such as the percentage for candidates to win electoral seats in any district, the preferential vote, and the duration of a technical extension of Parliament’s term could block the agreement which calls basically for the adoption of a proportional voting system dividing Lebanon into 15 districts.
If Lebanon’s parliamentarians postpone general elections for a third time, they will have more than doubled the time they were elected to serve, dashing the hopes of citizens who have been waiting to elect their representatives since 2013. The last general election was in June 2009. Because Lebanon’s voting age is 21, some people are close to turning 30 but have never had a chance to elect their parliamentary representatives. President Michel Aoun in April suspended parliament for one month, to allow parliamentarians more time to resolve debate over Lebanon’s electoral law and to avert an anticipated one year extension. But they have yet to come to an agreement, and Speaker Nabih Berri has once again postponed the legislative session until June 5.
Last October, Lebanese politicians finally elected a new president to end a two-and-a-half-year power vacuum that had crippled the functioning of the government. But just over six months later, Lebanon is drifting into yet another political crisis that could leave the country without a functioning parliament. The parliament’s term expires on June 20, and it is extremely unlikely that an election will be held before then. The members of parliament were elected in 2009 for a four-year term but have extended their mandate twice, citing instability caused by the Syrian civil war and later the country’s lack of a president.
Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri described a meeting that was held Sunday night as a “crossroads” towards reaching an electoral law based on the proportional system, away from sectarian and confessional considerations. Berri, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and Lebanese Forces MP Georges Adwan met on Sunday to discuss a proportional electoral law and specifically the distribution of electoral districts. In a telephone conference during a gathering of Amal Movement’s cadres in Europe, which was held in the German capital, Berri said: “A very important meeting will be held this evening and perhaps it could be a crossroads that leads us to a solution and an electoral law based on proportional representation, women’s rights and the right of expats to vote, a law that shuns sectarianism and puts this country on the track of the future.”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun suspended parliament for a month on Wednesday, temporarily blocking plans to extend the assembly’s term without election for the third time since 2013 to try to push politicians to agree election law reforms. Parliament was expected to vote on Thursday to extend its own mandate again until 2018, officials said. The lawmakers were elected in 2009 for what was meant to be a four-year term. The president’s move eased tensions simmering after activists had called for protests against the planned extension, which they decried as a blow to democracy. The two previous extensions triggered massive protests in central Beirut. … For years, the parties have been unable to agree on a new electoral law – resulting in parliament twice extending its own mandate, moves that critics including the European Union have condemned as unconstitutional.
Lebanese voted Sunday in municipal elections in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley amid tight security and a low turnout in the capital that has recently seen the largest anti-government protests in years following a months-long trash crisis. Security was tight in the country as authorities took strict measures to guarantee that the vote passed without trouble. Lebanon was hit by a wave of bombings in recent years that killed scores of people and Syria’s civil war has spilled over in the past.
Lebanon’s frenetic but relatively functional democracy suffered what many here describe as an ominous setback as lawmakers decided Wednesday to postpone parliamentary elections for the second time in less than two years. Amid fears of rising instability linked to the civil war in next-door Syria, Lebanon’s 128-member legislative body voted overwhelmingly to extend its mandate for an additional two years and seven months. The elections had already been pushed back from June 2013 because of similar security concerns. Recent attacks by militants linked to the Syrian conflict have shaken the fragile sectarian balance in Lebanon, where a 15-year civil war ended in 1990. Rights groups and activists warned that the vote’s postponement could sow further instability in one of the few democracies in the Middle East, a region beset by chaos and dominated by monarchies and authoritarian leaders.
The European Union stressed the importance of electoral reform in Lebanon, as it issued its first policy paper on its human rights and democracy work around the world as part of a yearly report Monday. In a section on Lebanon, the report highlighted the body’s push for electoral reform in the country. Two million euros have been allocated for the project, and the report emphasized the EU’s work toward adopting policy changes from the 2009 elections.
Political parties and influential local figures are busy announcing candidate lists and convincing independent candidates to withdraw in time for this weekend’s municipal by-elections to allow candidate tickets to win unopposed. The last-minute negotiations continued to bear fruit, as a village in Batroun became the latest to see its polls cancelled Sunday because of last-minute withdrawals. In Yater in Bint Jbeil, Hezbollah and Amal are trying to convince independent candidates to drop out, to prevent a repeat of the tension that resulted during the last round in 2010, when party supporters failed to adhere to the Amal-Hezbollah ticket, allowing a number of independent candidates to win office. The deal for Sunday’s poll involves nine seats on the parties’ list going to Amal and the other six to Hezbollah, with Amal receiving the mayor’s post and Hezbollah the deputy mayor’s. During the earlier round, 11 Hezbollah members won office, along with four from the rival ticket.