Trapped in collapse, Lebanese vote for new parliament

Beirut — Lebanon voted for a new parliament on Sunday, against a backdrop of an economic collapse that is transforming the country and expectations that the election will significantly alter the political landscape.

A new crop of candidates from the 2019 protest movement is turning against the country’s entrenched ruling class, blamed for the collapse, in hopes of overthrowing them. But they are divided and lack the money, experience and other advantages of traditional political rulers who have been in power for decades.

People began voting shortly after the polls began, and security forces were watching closely across the country.Sunday’s vote is LebanonThe implosion began in October 2019, sparking widespread anti-government protests.

This is also the first election since the mass explosion in August 2020 Beirutover 200 dead, thousands injured and parts destroyed LebanonCapital. The explosion, widely blamed on negligence, was sparked by hundreds of tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate that was set ablaze in a port warehouse following a fire at the facility.

Sunday’s vote is seen as a last chance to reverse course and punish current politicians, most of whom get power from LebanonThe sectarian political system and spoils plundered at the end of its 15-year civil war in 1990. But with doubts and widespread resignations, the vote is sure to bring back an equally strong party, and expectations for real change are low.

“I did what I could, and I knew it wasn’t going to turn 180 degrees,” Rabba Abbas, 74, said after the vote Beirut. He worries that the vote is only symbolic Lebanon Will again be caught up in the post-election political spat over the formation of a new government and the election of a new president in October.

“We’re going to hit a wall again. Lebanon is a hopeless case,” he said, echoing the prevailing sentiment. The polls will close at 7pm local time (1600GMT) and official results are expected on Monday.

degree LebanonSunday’s collapse was on full display. in the northern city of Tripoli, LebanonAs the poorest city, several polling stations lost power and voters had to climb several flights of stairs to cast their votes. Voters can be seen using the lights on their phones to check names and lists before voting.

Mirvat Dimashkieh, a 55-year-old housewife, said she was voting for change and the “new face” campaign, adding that longtime politicians should step aside.

“They should give others a chance. Enough theft,” she said.

Mainstream parties and politicians remained strong in the vote, while opposition figures and civil society activists who wanted to overthrow them were fragmented. Lebanese political parties have long relied on a system that encourages voters to vote in exchange for favors and personal gain.

Money flows in, and political parties offer voters cash bribes, sandwiches, transportation and other favors.

Since the start of the financial crisis, tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs, the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90% of its value, and many have left the country in search of opportunities abroad. Three-quarters of the country’s 6 million people, including 1 million Syrian refugees, now live in poverty.

The World Bank describes Lebanon‘s collapse was one of the worst in the world in the past 150 years.

Some 718 candidates on the 103 lists are running for 128 MPs. Voting is held every four years. In 2018, voters gave the powerful Hezbollah and its allies a 71-seat majority.

Lebanon With more than 3.5 million eligible voters, many of whom will vote in its 15 constituencies.

Western-backed mainstream parties want to wrest a parliamentary majority from Hezbollah, while many independents want to break out of traditional party lists and candidates.

Reflecting the tensions, a brawl broke out between supporters of Hezbollah and supporters of the Saudi-backed Christian Lebanese Forces party, which has been one of the most vocal critics of the Iranian militant group.

The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections said its representatives were forced to withdraw from two polling stations under threats from Hezbollah supporters and its Shiite Amal allies.

This year’s vote came as the main Sunni political leader, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, suspended his political work and called for a boycott of Sunnis. Some have warned that this could help Hezbollah’s Sunni allies win more seats.

This shows that political allegiance is often LebanonQassim Shtouni, 71, drives from his southern village Lebanon arrive Beirut vote. He said he chose a coalition of several mainstream groups, including Hezbollah, President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berry’s Amal bloc.

Sitting in a plastic chair outside a polling station, Shtouni said the main reason he voted for the Hezbollah-led coalition was “because my vote would be against normalization with Israel.” He noted the recent deal between Israel and the Gulf Arab states .

“The election is Lebanon Today is not a local election. They are international elections,” he said, referring to the political battle between Iran-backed groups and pro-Western factions.

Following the election results, Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government will become a caretaker cabinet until the president asks for consultations with new members of parliament to elect the next prime minister.

The new parliament will also elect a new head of state when President Michel Aoun’s six-year term expires at the end of October.

LebanonIts parliament and cabinet seats are divided equally between Muslims and Christians, according to a constitution drafted shortly before the end of the civil war.

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