BEIRUT: Hezbollah and its allies in Lebanon are on the verge of losing their parliamentary majority after voters delivered a stunning rejection of the country’s corrupt political elite.
Election results showed major victories for non-traditional political forces since polls closed at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Vote counting continues after Sunday’s election and full results are not expected until Tuesday, but the Iran-backed group admitted on Monday that it was unlikely to win 64 of parliament’s 128 seats. In the last election in 2018, they won 71.
Among the high-profile losers was Hezbollah’s main ally and deputy speaker of parliament, Elie Ferzli, 72, who was ousted by a candidate backed by Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. Talal Arslan, a Druze politician allied with Hezbollah, also lost his seat.
Anti-Hezbollah groups, including the Lebanese Forces and independent reformist candidates, have won important victories. LF said it won 22 seats, up from 15 in 2018. This would see them overtake the Free Patriotic Movement led by controversial former minister Gebran Bassil, which won 16 seats, down from 18 in 2018.
Turnout inside Lebanon topped 40%, down from 45% in the 2018 elections.
Despite recent weeks of sectarian incitement and irregularities and chaos at some polling stations and counting operations, the popular mood has shown a rejection of the traditional forces that govern the country in light of the economic and financial crisis. paralysis that has impoverished more than 80 percent of the population. the people.
Hezbollah and the Amal movement reacted to the close of the elections with premature celebrations in the northern Bekaa region, interspersed with gunfire and even rocket-propelled grenades.
Both parties forced their voters to go to the polls, but were surprised to learn that more than 4,000 spoiled ballots were found inside the ballot boxes, indicating that some voters preferred to distort their ballots instead of vote for the Shia duo.
Other surprises followed, with the candidate of the Lebanese Forces, Antoine Habashi (Maronite), penetrating the list of Hezbollah and the Amal movement and reserving him a seat in the new parliament.
The candidate for the Greek-Orthodox seat, Elias Jaradi, managed to crack the list of the Shiite duo and win the seat won for decades by the representative of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Hezbollah ally, Asaad Hardan.
Forces for Change candidate Firas Hamdan was also able to enter the same list and win the Druze seat in place of banker Marwan Khair Al-Din, who was nominated by the Shiite duo on their list.
The absence of the Future Movement from the electoral arena was evident in Sunday’s election results.
The share of votes for the Future Movement was captured by the Shiite parties and the Free Patriotic Movement, the Forces for Change, the deputy Fouad Makhzoumi and other personalities who have a popular presence on the scene.
This split appeared in Beirut, Tripoli and Akkar, despite figures opposed to Hezbollah reaching the parliamentary symposium, according to unconfirmed results.
Ibrahim Mneimneh, 46, an architect, who initially won one of the Sunni seats in Beirut’s second district, told Arab News that “the way the elections in Beirut were conducted confirmed that electoral money does not govern not the people, and that sectarian mobilization and all tools of political fraud have failed resoundingly.
Mneimneh stressed that he had “no intention of voting for the re-election of Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri as head of parliament again, nor for any of the symbols of authority”.
Doctor Bilal Al-Hashimi won a Sunni seat in Zahlé district on the Lebanese Forces list and Rami Abu Hamdan won the Shia seat in the district.
Al-Bizri, one of the figures calling for change and whose father, MP Nazih Al-Bizri, was known for his integrity in parliament, told Arab News: “We have to work within parliament to find some kind of of alliance to face the alliances of the political system and to initiate a true legislation and a real control on the execution of the political work.
Among other election surprises, Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan lost his Druze seat, which he held for nearly 30 years in the Chouf-Aley constituency.
He is a close ally of the Syrian regime and Hezbollah. He lost the seat to Mark Daou, a prominent figure in change groups and a member of the “United for Change” list. Hezbollah’s other ally, Wiam Wahhab, failed to win a Druze siege.
In the constituency of Chouf-Aley, two candidates from the “United for Change” list initially managed to break through to the Free Patriotic Movement list.
These two women had protested against the authority of downtown Beirut and had made themselves known in the media for their opposition to its corruption.
In the Christian community, the electoral battle was fierce between the Free Patriotic Current and the Lebanese Forces Party, with the latter winning 22 seats according to preliminary results, while the number of Free Patriotic Current deputies fell to 16.
Lebanese Forces candidate Ghiath Yazbek (Maronite) won the largest share of votes in the northern third constituency with 9,350 votes, overtaking the region’s MP and leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gibran Bassil, who obtained 8,250 voice.
Delegates at the counting center said the ballot box and the 256 ballots were coded, meaning that this ballot box should be voided.
There were demonstrations in front of the center and chants for the revolution, fears that the first results which had brought down the current deputy speaker of the parliament, Elie Ferzli, could be reversed in favor of one of the candidates of the opposition.
Representatives of the electoral machinery spoke of “pressure from very high state authorities on the registration commissions of the Western Bekaa to manipulate the results in order to ensure the victory of Elie Ferzli”.
The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections confirmed in a report on Monday that there had been “gross violations during the electoral process and the inaction of the Ministry of the Interior in applying the law, as well as attacks against candidates, voters and delegates”.
The United Nations Special Coordinator in Lebanon, Ioana Frontka, took to Twitter to congratulate Lebanon for “organizing the legislative elections on time”. She reminded them that