Hezbollah in shock election win, gets control of Lebanese parliament

Lebanon celebrates its first parliamentary election on Sunday in nine years
Lebanon's parliamentary election raises hopes for changes

08 May, 2018

Lebanon's prime minister has to be a Sunni under its sectarian power-sharing system.

Hariri made the announcement in a televised statement on Monday, saying that despite gains in Sidon, Tripoli, Beirut and Western Bekaa Valley, the Future Movement had only won 21 out of 128 parliamentary seats.

The drop came despite a reformulated electoral law created to encourage voting through proportional representation. However, Hariri would yet have the largest Sunni support in parliament which would see him form the next government irrespective of the losses.

The new contours of parliament could leave the Christian party of President Michel Aoun, who has allied with Hezbollah and Future, in the position of kingmaker.

Therefore, the Hezbollah and Amal Shiite parties, in alliance with the Free Patriotic Movement, may secure over 60 parliament seats, which will be considered the majority. The war has divided Lebanon, pitting parties supporting Hezbollah's intervention in Syria against Saudi-aligned parties opposed to it.

An anti-Hezbollah alliance led by Hariri and supported by Saudi Arabia won a majority in the Lebanese parliament in 2009, but it has since disintegrated.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called the vote "a great political and moral victory for the resistance option that protects the sovereignty of the country".

Hezbollah, along with affiliated groups and individuals, secured at least 67 seats, according to a Reuters calculation based on preliminary results for almost all the seats obtained from politicians and campaigns and reported in Lebanese media.

Several Western countries, including the U.S., have designated Hezbollah's military wing or the entire organisation as a terrorist group.

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Hezbollah-backed winners include Jamil al-Sayyed, a retired Shi'ite general and former Lebanese intelligence chief who is a close friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the unofficial results.

Qassemi also congratulated the candidates that have won the vote of people in the first parliamentary elections in Lebanon in nine years. Only about a quarter of voters had cast ballots by 2 p.m., the Interior Ministry said. In Beirut, home to about half of the country's estimated 4.5 million people, turnout was between 32 and 42 percent, depending on the district.

This year's vote was according to a new election law providing for proportional representation for the first time. But many, including Machnouk, blamed the new, complex law which redrew constituency districts for the tepid turnout particularly in Beirut.

Despite pre-poll hopes that a civil society movement could break through into Lebanese politics, only one candidate was thought to have been elected.

The new election law also allowed Sunni rivals to contest the elections.

On Monday, a member of Israel's security cabinet said that the Lebanese state had become indistinguishable from Hezbollah, which he said would change Israel's calculus should it wage a new war against the militant group.

Lebanese prime minister and candidate for the parliamentary election Saad Hariri shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote during the parliamentary election in Beirut, Lebanon, May 6, 2018.

The anti-Hezbollah Christian party Lebanese Forces also appears to have done well in the election, with indications that they have nearly doubled their MPs from eight to 15.

In the recent years, the Lebanese public has been voicing discontent over the declining public services, as illustrated by constant water and power cuts as well as corruption, and the rising number of Syrian refugees in the country.

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