AT Lebanon on Sunday, May 15, parliamentary elections began – the first in this country since the catastrophic explosion in port of beirut, which on August 4, 2020 killed more than 190 people and injured about 6,000 more. Nearly four million voters elect the 128 members of the Chamber of Deputies. The first preliminary voting results are expected in the evening.
Lebanon has been experiencing the deepest economic and financial crisis in its history for more than two years now. According to the UN, about three-quarters of the country’s population lives below the poverty line. Many households receive electricity for only a few hours a day. Fears have intensified recently that due to the war in Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, there will be an acute shortage of bread in Lebanon.
Chances for change are slim
Experts believe that the chances for profound political change as a result of the elections are slim. Representatives of an allied party to Iran Hezbollah, apparently, will only strengthen their positions. It remains to be seen how the departure of Lebanon’s influential Sunni politician, former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who abruptly withdrew from his candidacy in January, will affect the election results.
More opposition candidates are participating in the current elections in Lebanon than before. Many of them came into politics on the wave of mass political protests of 2019.
The political system in Lebanon is based on a delicate balance between representatives of different faiths. According to the Constitution, the president is always a Christian, the head of government is always a Sunni, and the chairman of parliament is a Shiite. At the same time, critics complain that politicians in Lebanon make the most important decisions outside of parliament.