Iran-backed Hezbollah has struck in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections, preliminary results show the loss of some of its oldest allies, and the Lebanese Forces, which backs Saudi Arabia, has said it has won seats.
While the votes are not yet counted, the final composition of the 128-member parliament has not yet been determined. The heavily armed Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah and its allies won a majority of 71 seats when Lebanon last voted in 2018.
Sunday’s election was the first since the devastating economic crisis in Lebanon, in which the World Bank blames leading politicians after a huge explosion in a port in 2020 that devastated Beirut.
One of the most staggering frustrations was seeing the crushed politician, Hezbollah’s ally, Talal Arslan, a descendant of one of Lebanon’s oldest political dynasties, who was first elected in 1992, lose his place to Mark Dow, a newcomer to the reform agenda.
Initial results also showed the victories of at least five other independents campaigning for reform and prosecuting politicians accused of Lebanon’s worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
Whether Hezbollah and its allies will be able to hold on to the majority depends on results that have not yet been formalized, including those who hold Sunni Muslim positions, which are challenged by allies and opponents of the Shiite movement.
The achievements reported by the Lebanese Force (LF), which strongly opposes Hezbollah, mean that they will overtake the allied Hezbollah Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) as the largest Christian party in parliament.
LF received at least 20 seats compared to 15 in 2018, the press service said. The FPM won up to 16 seats compared to 18 in 2018, the party said.
The FPM was the largest Christian party in parliament after its founder, President Michel Aoun, returned from exile in 2005 in France. Aun and LF leader Samir Geadja were opponents of the civil war.
The LF, created as a militia during the 15-year civil war in Lebanon, has repeatedly called on Hezbollah to abandon its arsenal.
Arab Reform Initiative Executive Director Nadim Guri said the majority would determine the results of 14 or 15 seats.
The next parliament must nominate a prime minister to form a cabinet, and the process could take months. Any delay would delay reforms aimed at resolving the crisis and gaining support from the International Monetary Fund and donor countries.