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.
Second, the elections are being held under a controversial party-list proportional representation system, which it is believed could increase the number of seats held by the 8 March Alliance led by the Shia group Hizbullah in parliament.
In the previous individual-list system the stakes were higher for the 14 March Coalition, especially the Future Movement which consistently gained more seats in Sunni majority constituencies. Sunni opposition forces close to Hizbullah fared weakly when the individual-list system was in place.
The third factor is the use of a preferential voting system in which each voter votes for one of the competing lists and then is entitled to cast a preferential vote for a single candidate from the same list.