In Sunday’s election, Hezbollah and its allies fought against a Saudi-led bloc led by politicians known as belligerents during Lebanon’s 15-year civil war. The group is led by Lebanese forces, a right-wing Christian group that has rallied to disarm Hezbollah.
According to representatives of Hezbollah and Lebanese forces, both blocs did not have a parliamentary majority. Hezbollah has won 61 seats so far, down from at least 70 since the last parliamentary elections in 2018.
The absence of a Sunni party in the Lebanese election raises uncertainty
The new parliament will elect the country’s next prime minister, and will elect a new president in October, following the expiration of Hezbollah ally Michelle Aoun. Analysts say more seats in the bloc will likely lead to a gridlock, delaying government formation.
Maha Yahya, director of the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Center, said that if the results hold, there could be a fight in the new political landscape over who will serve as speaker of parliament. Hezbollah’s loss means the current speaker, Nabih Berri, who has held the post since 1992 and is one of Hezbollah’s closest allies, could lose his post.
Asked if Lebanese forces would oppose Berry, a spokesman said: “It goes without saying that things cannot go the way they were.”
Political conflict could be catastrophic for Lebanon, which urgently needs a government that can continue negotiations for financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund. The delay could also hamper the international community’s pledge of aid, with governments such as France and Saudi Arabia reluctant to finance the Hezbollah-controlled government.
More than a dozen seats in parliament went to independent candidates who two years ago launched a protest movement against Lebanon’s political class, which is widely seen as corrupt and ineffective. Many also promised justice for the victims of an explosion in the port of Beirut in 2020 that killed more than 200 people and destroyed much of the city center.
Among the winning independents are Elias Jaradi, an ophthalmologist who previously won a seat in southern Lebanon under Hezbollah allies, the group’s support center, and Ibrahim Menimneh, an architect from Beirut who said in an interview that he had the title. In favor of removing laws that criminalize homosexuality.
The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections, an independent observer, called for “clear violations, pressure, intimidation and weak organization.” Recorded violations included violence against LADE’s volunteer monitors; Party supporters are illegally following voters into booths; And ballot boxes are missing accompanying records.
The European Union’s election observation mission also said in a preliminary report that “elections have been marred by vote-buying and widespread practice of solicitation.”
A tragedy at sea has shaken Lebanon’s poorest city
Voter turnout was low in Lebanese cities, despite politicians urging citizens to go to the polls. In Beirut, Rania Safar, a 48-year-old schoolteacher, voted against traditional parties, expressing cautious hope for change.
“The road will be long,” he said, “but I hope success will come.”