What to Retain from Lebanon's 2018 Parliamentary Elections

First, besides the fact that it’s been nine years that the Lebanese parliament has remained intact since 2009, these elections are novel as, henceforth, they introduce proportional list voting. Indeed, the parliament voted in favor of this novelty and reduced the number of districts to fifteen. In a country where confessional balance looks primary, proportional list voting seems to be an effective cure in front of the uninominal majority voting. It was presented to give a chance for religions and confessions to find themselves in the political arena. This new law offers the possibility to push Lebanese people to desist from voting, which was translated by the 51% of the registrants having not abstained on election day. The turnout was low considering the number of Lebanese abroad who were able to vote for the first time. ​


The low turnout was also witnessed on the scale of the diaspora when Lebanese immigrants in more than thirty countries were able to vote for the first time. Twelve million Lebanese immigrants shape the diaspora, but only eighty two thousand have engaged as if the right to vote wasn’t enough to convince them to choose the leaders of their country of origin. This failure reflects the visible threat of abstention, which is becoming a global issue. To what extent are winners legitimate if the abstention rate is too high, especially in a fragile system where the same people have been ruling the country for decades.

Posters of Lebanese parliament candidates in Beirut/Reuters Mohamed Azakir


Finally, waves of criticism have risen against independents from civil society compared to low reactions facing the new electoral law. Civil society represents a real hope facing the political establishment, an establishment which is certainly criticized but never overthrown. As the results reveal, we can see that civil society didn’t really drill the Lebanese political establishment. Some consider them to be criticizing the current political spectrum without offering a pertinent program as an alternative. Unlike the independent movement, Hezbollah succeeded in becoming one of the most important layers in the country by strengthening their presence in the Lebanese Parliament.


What happened on election day tells that if a certain change had to happen in parliament, it probably won't be led under the leadership of civil society. That's perhaps due to middle-class members fixing high expectations for this alternative. Besides, even if Hariri’s movement has slightly weakened in losing seats, he remains the only tangible force in the country, for now. Politics are a cycle and change is going to happen. It’s a matter of time and individuals. Who incarnates it? Obviously no one, maybe deep inside no one wants a real alteration.


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