The Fort Worth Press - Lebanon vote weakens Hezbollah bloc as reformists book gains

USD -
AED 3.672975
AFN 71.770291
ALL 92.547357
AMD 387.332869
ANG 1.800986
AOA 848.359016
ARS 890.741803
AUD 1.50727
AWG 1.8025
AZN 1.686806
BAM 1.802763
BBD 2.017698
BDT 117.21004
BGN 1.802151
BHD 0.376915
BIF 2868.414988
BMD 1
BND 1.349311
BOB 6.904847
BRL 5.139119
BSD 0.999309
BTN 83.056998
BWP 13.576992
BYN 3.270314
BYR 19600
BZD 2.014288
CAD 1.36639
CDF 2809.999753
CHF 0.91461
CLF 0.032842
CLP 906.21989
CNY 7.242014
CNH 7.259065
COP 3864.74
CRC 512.328893
CUC 1
CUP 26.5
CVE 101.639374
CZK 22.719198
DJF 177.923215
DKK 6.877715
DOP 58.846845
DZD 134.526048
EGP 46.901002
ERN 15
ETB 57.41697
EUR 0.921899
FJD 2.228198
FKP 0.796099
GBP 0.78503
GEL 2.709876
GGP 0.796099
GHS 14.538868
GIP 0.796099
GMD 67.775017
GNF 8590.127667
GTQ 7.762328
GYD 209.063633
HKD 7.81095
HNL 24.694658
HRK 6.979956
HTG 132.857077
HUF 354.107014
IDR 16068.15
ILS 3.66295
IMP 0.796099
INR 83.075898
IQD 1308.980634
IRR 42075.000506
ISK 138.195888
JEP 0.796099
JMD 156.390284
JOD 0.708899
JPY 156.779846
KES 132.749626
KGS 87.955697
KHR 4076.139558
KMF 455.650334
KPW 899.999697
KRW 1365.01047
KWD 0.30692
KYD 0.832711
KZT 442.579432
LAK 21388.210352
LBP 89486.380606
LKR 299.350141
LRD 193.575003
LSL 18.480158
LTL 2.95274
LVL 0.60489
LYD 4.842144
MAD 9.96737
MDL 17.727796
MGA 4428.261972
MKD 56.795609
MMK 2098.538969
MNT 3449.999773
MOP 8.041331
MRU 39.740079
MUR 46.270223
MVR 15.460036
MWK 1732.589759
MXN 16.67914
MYR 4.708503
MZN 63.464817
NAD 18.479668
NGN 1468.459806
NIO 36.779278
NOK 10.57578
NPR 132.892105
NZD 1.631675
OMR 0.38484
PAB 0.999272
PEN 3.735678
PGK 3.883486
PHP 58.090389
PKR 277.991612
PLN 3.920675
PYG 7516.246486
QAR 3.641498
RON 4.586697
RSD 108.000995
RUB 91.624992
RWF 1314.098723
SAR 3.750597
SBD 8.475185
SCR 13.702027
SDG 600.999967
SEK 10.65563
SGD 1.34977
SHP 1.26345
SLE 22.847303
SLL 20969.50094
SOS 570.99978
SRD 32.2745
STD 20697.981008
SVC 8.743744
SYP 2512.529855
SZL 18.372125
THB 36.53953
TJS 10.771968
TMT 3.51
TND 3.11875
TOP 2.362549
TRY 32.22115
TTD 6.785941
TWD 32.174498
TZS 2589.999641
UAH 40.109693
UGX 3802.246321
UYU 38.456752
UZS 12703.533522
VEF 3622552.534434
VES 36.500745
VND 25463
VUV 118.72199
WST 2.803093
XAF 604.652256
XAG 0.032421
XAU 0.000427
XCD 2.70255
XDR 0.754851
XOF 604.652256
XPF 110.725372
YER 250.350113
ZAR 18.40105
ZMK 9001.197352
ZMW 26.670968
ZWL 321.999592
  • SCS

    0.1300

    13.18

    +0.99%

  • AZN

    0.3600

    78.54

    +0.46%

  • NGG

    -1.0300

    60.69

    -1.7%

  • CMSC

    0.1200

    24.24

    +0.5%

  • CMSD

    0.0000

    24.09

    0%

  • GSK

    -0.0300

    45.12

    -0.07%

  • RIO

    0.4300

    71.85

    +0.6%

  • RELX

    0.5300

    44.69

    +1.19%

  • BCE

    -0.2200

    33.57

    -0.66%

  • RBGPF

    -1.8300

    55.21

    -3.31%

  • BP

    0.3000

    36.72

    +0.82%

  • RYCEF

    0.1020

    5.65

    +1.81%

  • BTI

    -0.1100

    30.62

    -0.36%

  • VOD

    -0.0300

    9.33

    -0.32%

  • BCC

    4.6500

    141.11

    +3.3%

  • JRI

    0.0250

    11.395

    +0.22%

Lebanon vote weakens Hezbollah bloc as reformists book gains
Lebanon vote weakens Hezbollah bloc as reformists book gains / Photo: © AFP

Lebanon vote weakens Hezbollah bloc as reformists book gains

An election in crisis-hit Lebanon appears to have dealt a setback to the biggest bloc, led by the Iran-backed Shiite Muslim Hezbollah party, and boosted reformists, provisional results showed Monday.

Text size:

Counting was ongoing and official results were only available for 78 of the 128 seats up for grabs by 10:00 pm (1900 GMT), fuelling opposition fears of foul play in some of the closest races.

Turnout was low in the general election Sunday, the first since the Mediterranean country was plunged into a deep economic crisis that has stoked popular fury with the hereditary and graft-tainted ruling class.

Some polling centres lacked electricity, forcing voters to use their phone lights to cast their ballots, in a reflection of Lebanon's most painful crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Final results, now expected on Tuesday, will show whether Hezbollah, a political and military movement seen as a state within a state, and its allies can keep an actionable majority in Lebanon's parliament.

Hezbollah, considered a "terrorist" organisation by many Western countries, has so far retained all its seats, but its Christian allies, President Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), suffered losses.

The Lebanese Forces (LF) of former warlord Samir Geagea, which has strong ties with Saudi Arabia, won several new seats and should emerge as the largest Christian party.

Hezbollah MP Mohammed Raad warned opponents Monday against becoming "shields for the Israelis", raising fears of unrest as the group's rivals appeared to make gains.

"We accept you as opponents in parliament, but we will not accept you as shields for the Israelis," Raad said in televised remarks.

- 'Frustration' -

New opposition candidates also made advances, pushing forward the agenda of a cross-sectarian protest movement that erupted in late 2019 against the ruling elite.

Whatever the final election outcome, observers expect months of haggling over the next government line-up and the election of the speaker, and more political paralysis at a time when Lebanon needs an IMF bailout.

Election turnout was just 41 percent -- eight points lower than in 2018 -- suggesting that the traditional sectarian parties that have shared power like a cartel for three decades failed to mobilise their supporters.

"Abstention is partly linked to frustration with the political class and the feeling that the economic situation will not change," said Lebanese analyst Karim Bitar.

Turnout was particularly low in Sunni Muslim areas, after former premier Saad Hariri triggered a de facto boycott in his community by pulling out of the elections.

Some of the politicians most reviled by the reform camp suffered stinging losses, including several MPs who had traditionally represented the interests of neighbour and former occupying force Syria.

New opposition parties produced a strong showing in various parts of the country. While the reformists struggled to unite ahead of the vote, they could end up holding enough seats to leave them in an unprecedented king-making position.

Analyst Ziad Majed said that the economic context could play in favour of reformists who will for the first time be pushing from within parliament, not just as outsiders.

"This will create political and popular pressure for reformists and forces of change to cooperate," he said.

- 'New start' -

The election was held two years after Lebanon defaulted on its debt and as the currency has lost 95 percent of its value.

The other major cataclysm suffered by Lebanon was the August 2020 Beirut port explosion that killed more than 200 people, injured thousands and devastated swathes of the city.

Political heavyweights across the party spectrum have obstructed any meaningful investigation into the blast.

Scuffles and cases of voter intimidation were reported on polling day, although Interior Minister Bassam al-Mawlawi insisted Monday when announcing partial results that their number was "very low".

Tension was high in some constituencies where opposition candidates who looked to be squeezing into parliament suspected traditional parties of attempting to cook the results.

The outcome of the vote could have an impact on a presidential election due later this year.

President Aoun, 88, has long been expected to be succeeded by his son-in-law, FPM leader Gebran Bassil -- but Bassil's bid suffered a massive blow with the surge of the Lebanese Forces.

Marc Saad, an LF spokesman, voiced optimism about the coming electoral battle for the head of state.

"We can say that the Lebanese people have punished the governing parties and have aligned with us, expressing their will for a new start in governance," he said.

K.Ibarra--TFWP