‘Revolution ballot box’: Lebanon holds parliamentary elections | Election news

Voter participation is expected to be higher this year, following an increase in voting in the diaspora last week.

Beirut, Lebanon – Lebanon will hold parliamentary elections on Sunday as it recovers from an economic crisis that has left more than three quarters of the population in poverty.

About 3.9 million eligible voters choose their preferred representatives from 718 candidates across 103 lists in 15 districts and 27 sub-districts, an increase from 597 candidates and 77 lists in 2018.

The European Union has deployed 170 observers across the country to monitor procedures on election day.

Lebanon’s semi-democracy has a unique confessional power-sharing system. The parliament is made up of 128, evenly divided among the country’s mosaic Muslim and Christian denominations. The President of Lebanon is a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim and the Speaker of Parliament a Shia Muslim.

The country’s electoral law allocates the seats proportionally based on a two-vote system. Voters select a list of candidates who run together, followed by a “preferred vote” for their favorite candidate from that list.

President Michel Aoun called on citizens to vote en masse in a speech on Saturday. “The ballot box revolution is the fairest,” Aoun said.

Voter participation is expected to be higher this year, following an increase in voting in the diaspora last week.

About 142,041 of the 244,442 registered foreign voters went to the polls in 48 countries last week on May 6 and 8, with a turnout of 63.05 percent, according to the State Department. This was more than triple their participation in Lebanon’s previous elections in 2018.

Lebanon’s turnout in 2018 was just under 50 percent.

Following the 2019 uprising, this year’s elections will also see many anti-establishment candidates representing new political groups and movements. In 2018, only former journalist Paula Yacoubian won a seat in Beirut.

While analysts expect anti-establishment candidates to win additional seats, they believe the balance of power will ultimately remain the same.

Political partisans loyal to traditional parties have threatened and attacked anti-establishment groups in several districts during campaigns.

Lebanon’s largest Sunni party, the once Saudi-backed Future Movement, will not participate in the election, however. Their leader, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, stepped down from politics earlier this year, criticizing the growing power and influence of the Iran-backed Shia Hezbollah movement.

Hariri left a significant political void in key constituencies in Lebanon, and analysts said Al Jazeera’s allies could try to capitalize on Hezbollah.

The Future Movement currently holds two-thirds of allotted Sunni seats in parliament.

A wide range of political groups and candidates have swept Sunni constituencies to try to fill the void in Tripoli, Sidon and Beirut’s second district.

Many Hariri supporters have called for a boycott of the elections.

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