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Lebanon’s pro-Hezbollah bloc loses parliamentary majority in national elections

The militant Hezbollah group in Lebanon and its allies have lost their parliamentary majority, final election results showed on Tuesday, as more than a dozen independent newcomers took seats.

Most important points:

The hezbollah-led coalition lost the majority, as 14 independents won seat. Split between pro- and anti-Hezbollah lawmakers may make it difficult to pass new reforms Two MPs accused in the Beirut attack were re-elected

The result marked a shift in a country devastated by ongoing financial collapse and rising poverty.

The final results for Sunday’s election showed no clear majority for any group, pointing to a fragmented and deeply polarized parliament split between pro- and anti-Hezbollah lawmakers who will find it difficult to work together to create a form of a new government and implement much-needed reforms.

The Hezbollah-led coalition won 61 seats in the 128-member legislature, down from 10 members since the last vote four years ago — a loss largely due to the misadventures of the group’s political partners.

The loss was not expected to weaken the Iranian-backed group’s dominance in Lebanese politics, and all 13 Hezbollah candidates who competed were elected.

Still, the results were hailed as a breakthrough for groups opposing Hezbollah and the country’s other mainstream political parties responsible for the collapse, introducing more new independent faces than expected.

Hezbollah supporters gathered in Beirut during the Lebanon elections. (AP: Hussein Malla)

Hezbollah opponents pick up chairs.

Hezbollah’s most outspoken opponent, the nationalist Christian Lebanese Armed Forces party, emerged as the biggest winner. In contrast, its Christian rival, the Free Patriotic Movement, founded by President Michel Aoun, suffered a political setback.

national elections

Though Christian, the Free Patriotic Movement is an ally of the Shia Muslim Hezbollah.

The Lebanese Armed Forces now have the largest bloc in parliament with 21 seats, overtaking the Free Patriotic Movement, which now has 18 seats, down three from the previous vote.

Despite the setback, Hezbollah and its main Shia ally, Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal group, retained the 27 seats allocated to the Shia sect.

Independents and newcomers, including those from the 2019 protest movement, won 14 seats.

That was a major achievement, as they entered the vote fragmented and faced intimidation and threats from established mainstream parties.

Their actions send a strong message to ruling-class politicians who have held their seats for decades despite an economic collapse that has impoverished the country and sparked the largest wave of emigration since the 1975-90 civil war.

“The results show that the Lebanese vote is against this ruling class and also against political alignment with Iran,” said Lebanese Armed Forces official Wissam Raji.

“The Lebanese know that the situation has become disastrous and that the solution is not in the hands of the ruling class.”

“The solution lies in a radical change of the political map of Lebanon at all levels,” said M.r Raji, whose group participated in most governments until October 2019.

polarized government

The results also predict a highly polarized parliament, split between pro- and anti-Hezbollah lawmakers who will find it difficult to work together to form a new government and pass laws needed to implement reforms for financial recovery in Lebanon.

With two main blocs – Hezbollah and the Lebanese Armed Forces – facing each other, analysts said the results could lead to more paralysis when the country desperately needs unity.

The spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, called for the “rapid formation of an inclusive government” that can finalize an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and accelerate the implementation of reforms needed to keep Lebanon on the road to recovery.

The UN urged the new parliament to urgently pass any legislation necessary to stabilize the economy and improve governance,” Dujarric said.

The biggest loss came for Hezbollah’s allies with close ties to the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, including Deputy Speaker of Parliament Elie Ferzli, Druze politician Talal Arslan who had held a seat for three decades, Asaad Hardan and Faisal Karami, son of the late Prime Minister Omar Karami.

MPs charged in Beirut attack re-elected

Two MPs charged with the explosion in the port of Beirut in 2020 were re-elected, leading some victims’ families to fear further delays in a stalled investigation into the blast.

The 2020 explosion in Beirut killed more than 215 people. (Reuters: Mohamed Azakir)

Many in Lebanon blame the disaster, which killed more than 215 people, on security shortcomings by senior political and security officials.

Responsibility for the blast emerged as a major point of contention for opposition candidates and voters.

Interior Ministry results show that Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter won seats in Baalbek-Hermel and South Lebanon, respectively.

Mr. Khalil and Mr. Zeaiter were charged in December 2020 but deny any wrongdoing and have refused to attend the hearings, citing the immunity granted to them by their parliamentary seats.

The investigations are classified, so the exact charges against them have not been made public.

Rima Zahed, whose brother Amin was killed in the explosion and sat on a committee representing victims, described their victory as a “farce”.

Another committee member, Kayan Tleis, whose 39-year-old brother Mohammad was killed in the explosion, told Reuters: “We are alarmed and provoked and do not want anyone to be above the law”.

An arrest warrant was issued against Mr. Khalil, but it was not carried out by security forces, who cited parliamentary immunity.

Lawsuits filed by suspects, including the two MPs against the judge investigating the blast, have shut down the probe for months.

Still, the victims’ relatives said they were encouraged by the victories of newcomer opposition candidates in Beirut, who took five of the 19 seats in the capital’s two constituencies.

“We have more people in parliament who can work for us… They are people who will help our cause,” Theis said.

“I hope we don’t have to wait long for justice.”


Dorothy R. Barrett

I’m a full-time blogger by passion. This is my first blog, and I'm excited to share everything that I love about technology, business, and lifestyle with you. I’m a writer by trade, and I can be found writing about tech, business, and lifestyle on my personal blog.

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