Lebanon held its first parliamentary elections in 9 years this past Sunday. The results of the elections have come out and many are disappointed that the same faces are back.
Elections took place in Lebanon on 6 May for the first time in around 9 years. They were originally envisioned to take place in 2013 but the Parliament repeatedly failed to definitively elect a President.
The elections were contested between a wide range of parties and coalitions that represented the complex and varied demographics of Lebanon. More than 970 candidates competed for 128 seats in the Parliament, including 111 women. The electoral law had changed in Lebanon from a system where the majority vote takes all in a district to a system of proportional representation in which all votes are accounted for.
As has traditionally been the case in Lebanese politics, each party largely represents a particular ethnic or religious denomination within the country. The Free Patriotic Movement, headed by Gebran Bassil, gained the highest number of seats in the Lebanese Parliament – 29. The movement is dominated by Christian members and largely represent Christian-populated areas. The Lebanese Forces, also a political force that largely represents Chrstians, gained 16 seats in Parliament.
Then in second place came Saad Hariri’s movement, the Future Movement, which managed to take 21 seats.
Media reports consider the elections to be a victory first and foremost for the predominantly Shia parties, Amal and Hezbollah, which dominated in the south of the countries. Amal took 16 seats while Hezbollah has gained 13. This is said to be an indicator that the two Shia-dominated parties are imposing a hegemony in the south of the country. This has elicited a strong reaction from neighbouring Israel, which sees the growth in support for the two parties as a threat to its national security.
Voters have made complaints that have been repeated in Lebanon for decades. The political system and electoral process is organised in such a way that reifies sectarian identities that then become represented by parties of an exclusive nature.
Political and sectarian divisions within Lebanon will thus continue to thrive as parties attempt to reach compromises that are difficult to reach.