Beirut -

The Lebanese have moved to the post-election stage of the new parliament. In the initial scene, it appears that Lebanon is on the cusp of severe political polarization in a parliament in which no one has the majority of seats, and analysts believe that its composition is so complex that it becomes a fertile ground for confrontation and disruption.

After the Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Bassam al-Mawlawi, announced the final results of the elections, fundamental changes appeared in the shape of the new parliament.

Hezbollah and its allies won 60 seats, compared to 42 seats for the March 14 forces.

Announcing the results of the parliamentary elections in Lebanon (Anatolia)

Seat Map

In the preliminary numbers, which are relatively subject to change if some representatives move from one bloc to another, the following appears:

  • The Lebanese Forces party led by Samir Geagea won 18 seats, after its bloc in the previous parliament consisted of 14 seats.

  • The Free Patriotic Movement led by Gebran Bassil (son-in-law of President Michel Aoun) won 18 seats, a noticeable decline, as it had 22 deputies, after the resignation of 7 deputies from its previous bloc that was formed after the 2018 elections out of 29 deputies.

  • The Lebanese Kataeb Party won 4 seats, after it had 3 seats in the previous parliament.

    The Marada Movement led by Suleiman Franjieh (Hezbollah's ally) won only two seats after it had 5 seats, and the Armenian Tashnaq Party won 3 seats.

  • The duo of Hezbollah and the Amal movement maintained 31 seats, including all Shiite seats.

  • The Progressive Socialist Party won 9 seats, maintaining its representation in the previous parliament.

  • Civil society forces managed to win at least 12 seats in influential constituencies, after they had one seat previously, and 13 independent deputies won.

  • The main loser is the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (Hezbollah's ally), which did not win any seat through its candidates, after it had 3 MPs previously.

The Lebanese Parliament, after the Taif Agreement (1990), consists of 128 deputies equally between Muslims and Christians, distributed among sects as follows: for Maronites, 34, for Sunnis, 27, for Shiites, 27, for Greek Orthodox, 14, for Greek Catholic, 8, for Druze, 8. Orthodox Armenians have 5 deputies, Alevis have 2 deputies, and one representative for each of the Catholic, Biblical, and minority Armenians.


Retreat reflects popular restlessness

The voter turnout amounted to about 42%, according to the Ministry of Interior, and this percentage shows a noticeable decline in turnout at the ballot boxes;

In the 2009 elections - which were followed by two extensions of the parliament - the voter turnout was 54%.

In 2018, the voter turnout decreased to 49%, and now it is down by 8 additional points in the 2022 elections.

Analysts link this decline to several factors, including:

  • More than half of the Lebanese people boycotted the elections as an expression of political and popular discontent.

  • The inability of the traditional political forces to persuade their audience to vote heavily, especially since the decline in voting affected the various constituencies and sects, despite the massive influx of political money with the aim of buying votes.

  • The inability of civil society forces to convince a large segment of the Lebanese people to vote for them against the ruling elite, despite their media and propaganda campaigns.

Lebanese cast their votes at a polling station in Beirut in the presence of party representatives (French)

The significance of the results

Electoral expert Rabie Al-Haber told Al-Jazeera Net that there are important indicators for these results, including:

  • The Christian cover of Hezbollah was shaken by the advance of the Lebanese Forces party in return for the relative retreat of its ally, the Free Patriotic Movement;

    Which will play a pivotal role on two levels: the presidential elections, and Christian political support for Hezbollah and its project.

  • The forces emanating from civil society managed to win at least 12 seats, with faces entering the parliamentary symposium for the first time, despite it being scattered in about 60 out of 103 lists.

  • Shifts in the political representation of the Sunni community after the absence of the Future Movement, which had the second largest parliamentary bloc consisting of 19 deputies;

    The results show the victory of Sunni personalities on many fronts, some of them anti-Hezbollah and some of them ally, in return for the fall of prominent figures from the veterans of the Future Movement.


The upcoming Lebanese scene

And about the upcoming political scene, Joseph Bahout, writer and political analyst Hussein Ayoub, spoke to Al Jazeera Net, Director of the Issam Fares Center for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University in Beirut.

According to the two experts, Lebanon is awaiting crucial milestones, the first of which is the election of a Speaker of Parliament, and then the formation of a government, and then the presidential elections next October, in addition to the future of negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.

Bahout describes the new parliament as having two chambers: the first has a political title that will deepen the vertical division in the country, and the second has an economic title in which understandings will be "a piece", in light of conflicting visions, even among civil society representatives and independents.

Politically, Bahout believes that the margin of majority that Hezbollah can provide is very narrow, in contrast to the rise in the party’s representation, and the limited options for the new forces, especially the representatives who emerged from the October 17, 2019 movement, most of whom present political headlines against Hezbollah.

The fundamental question about the latter category is: Will they organize their joint work with one bloc, or will they fragment into multiple blocs?

If this scene solidifies - according to Bahout - Lebanon may go towards a sharp division on the basis of March 8 and March 14;

"This means that political life in the absence of a clear majority and minority will be unbalanced, especially if the party's agenda is presented with the title of Hezbollah and the legitimacy of its weapons, which will quickly turn parliament into a confrontation council."

Bahout expects parliament to witness difficulty in considering the forces’ visions regarding monetary and economic files.

Which will lead to intersections and side understandings that extend the interests of most of the traditional forces, which will put the newcomer forces to a test by approaching highly sensitive files that affect the livelihood of the Lebanese.

Bahout finds that the elections created a kind of balance between the Forces Party and the Free Patriotic Movement, in exchange for a small restriction on other Christian forces.

Members of the Lebanese army near a polling station in the capital, Beirut (Reuters)

Iraqi model

Hussein Ayoub believes that the new parliament is correct in saying that Lebanon is before the model of the Iraqi parliament;

As an expression of the blockage of the arteries of the political system, the sudden intrusion of groups for change and independents is an expression of popular discontent.

And this issue - in his opinion - "is recorded by Saad Hariri as the one who sparked it by his decision to withdraw from the elections."

The political writer believes that no one has the majority and no one has the status of the minority, and everyone will act on the basis that he is a winner.

The only constant is that the duo "Hezbollah and Amal" managed to consolidate their position by harvesting 27 Shiite seats, and Jumblatt with 6 Druze seats out of 8, that is, as it was in 2018.

The main title of the new parliament - according to Ayoub - is the transition from an economic, financial and social crisis to "the parliament of the great national crisis that puts Lebanon before the unknown."

Ayoub said that Hezbollah should reconsider its rhetoric and alliances, and review its handling of the Lebanese reality;

He "protected himself within his sect, but he had to measure things on a different scale."

The analyst believes that Geagea's strengthening of his Christian position in return for the decline in the popularity of the Free Patriotic Movement, which hardly maintained its solid core;

The election results intelligently translated it by two forces, Jumblatt and Geagea, meaning that they focused on the possible, and made an effort to win by a few numbers.

The main variable remains - in Ayoub's opinion - the Sunni dispersion and how it is expressed in the balance of power and alliances later.

Ayoub said the new parliament was absent from the sect's official spokesman.

The first loser is former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, followed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and then Saad Hariri.

It is reported that the results ended the club of heads of government and no longer represented anything.

He explained that Saad Hariri currently owns a bloc of 7 deputies loyal to him outside his current, in exchange for the entry of Al-Ahbash with two deputies and the Islamic Group with one, in an unprecedented diversity in the Sunni scene since 1996.

The analyst said, "Sunni dispersion will increase with the loss of reference to the sect, and the conflict will later focus between Hezbollah and the forces to attract the Sunni sect's seats."

Ayoub rules out that Lebanon will be able to achieve its next entitlements, likely that the crisis will start with the election of the parliament speaker and he will withdraw from forming the government, leading to the presidential vacuum, which has become highly probable.

Keywords: