100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
Lebanon votes in first election since crisis
Beirut (AFP) - Lebanon voted Sunday in its first election since multiple crises dragged it to the brink of failed…
Lebanon votes in first election since Beirut blast, economic crisis
Polls opened on Sunday in Lebanon's first election since the deadly Beirut port blast and the country's economic collapse, making…
Lebanon awaits results of first vote since multiple crises
Beirut (AFP) - The results of Lebanon's first elections since multiple crises ravaged the country were expected Monday, with opposition…
Lebanon votes in first national election since onset of economic crisis
Low expectations that ballot for parliamentary seats will see breakthrough in dislodging entrenched ruling elite
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Crisis-hit Lebanon votes but few expect major change
Beirut (AFP) - Turnout was low as Lebanon held its first election Sunday since a painful economic crisis dragged it to…
Lebanon to vote in first election since financial meltdown
Lebanese vote on Sunday in the first election since their country's economic collapse, a test of whether Iran-backed Hezbollah and…
Get all your news in one place
Latest World news:
Anthony Albanese in Tokyo for tense Quad talks after Joe Biden says US would defend Taiwan
Labor leader in tight position after China said dialogue with US, India and Japan would be test of new Australian…
Read news from The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more, with one subscription
Learn More
Watch: Volodymyr Zelensky interviewed by Jonathan Swan
Live from Davos, Switzerland.
Fresh pressure over Partygate scandal as new pictures show Boris Johnson raising a glass at lockdown drinks event
Photographs have emerged showing British prime minister Boris Johnson appearing to enjoy a drinks party during lockdown.
Joe Biden says US recession ‘is not inevitable’ despite rampant inflation – live
President warns inflation is ‘going to be a haul’ as poll finds 77% of Americans ‘pessimistic’ about cost of goods…
Erdogan Says Turkey to Launch Military Operations on its Southern Borders
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday Ankara would soon launch new military operations along its southern borders to create…
From analysis to good news, read the world’s best news in one place
UN denounces ‘racist’ and ‘homophobic’ coverage of monkeypox
UNAIDS warns some reporting and commentary on the virus has used stigmatising language that could harm public health.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says UK official witnessed her signing false confession to secure Iran release
British-Iranian says she expects Tehran to use it against her in the future

Lebanon Votes in First Election since Crisis

By Asharq Al-Awsat
Ballot boxes are distributed to polling station staff ahead of Lebanon's first election since a currency collapse plunged most of its population into poverty ANWAR AMRO AFP

Lebanon voted Sunday in its first election since multiple crises dragged it to the brink of failed statehood, with the ruling elite expected to comfortably weather public anger.

The parliamentary election is a first test for opposition movements spawned by an unprecedented anti-establishment uprising in 2019 that briefly raised hopes of regime change in Lebanon, AFP said.

Yet observers have warned not to expect any seismic shift, with every lever of power firmly in the hands of traditional sectarian parties and an electoral system rigged in their favor.

After an underwhelming campaign stifled by the nation's all-consuming economic predicament, 3.9 million Lebanese were eligible to vote when polling stations opened at 7:00 am (0400 GMT).

The army deployed across the country to secure an election Lebanon's donors have stressed was a pre-requisite for crucial financial rescue measures.

Independents can hope for more than the lone seat they clinched in 2018 but most of parliament's 128 seats will remain in the clutches of the very political class that is blamed for the country's woes.

The outgoing chamber was dominated by the Iran-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah and its two main allies: the Shiite Amal party of Speaker Nabih Berri and the Christian Free Patriotic Movement of President Michel Aoun.

"It seems almost impossible to imagine Lebanon voting for more of the same -- and yet that appears to be the likeliest outcome," said Sam Heller, an analyst with the Century Foundation.

Since the last election, the country was mutilated by an August 2020 blast at the Beirut port that went down as one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history and deepened one of the most spectacular economic downturns of our time.

- Corruption -

The Lebanese pound has lost 95 percent of its value, people's savings are blocked in banks, minimum wage won't buy a tank of petrol and mains electricity comes on only two hours a day.

More than 80 percent of the population is now considered poor by the United Nations, with the most desperate increasingly attempting perilous boat crossings to flee to Europe.

Once described as the Switzerland of the Middle East, Lebanon ranked second-to-last behind Afghanistan in the latest World Happiness Index released in March.

Numbed by the daily hardships of the economic crisis, many registered voters have seemed indifferent to an election that they doubted would even be held until a few days ago.

Despite international pressure to reform Lebanese politics, the corruption that sank the country is still rife, including in the electoral process.

The crisis has only widened the gap in purchasing power between the politicians who buy votes and the electorate that sells them.

At one candidate's rally in the northern city of Tripoli, some well-wishers disappointed by the lack of cash handouts made off with the plastic chairs.

- Low hopes -

While Sunday's election might not topple their reviled leadership, some Lebanese see the vote as an important test for the principles that arose during the October 2019 uprising.

For Marianne Vodolian, the cataclysmic August 2020 explosion that disfigured Beirut and killed more than 200 people makes voting an even more sacred duty.

"We are against the regime that ruled us for 30 years, robbed us and blew us up," said the 32-year-old, a spokesperson for the families of blast victims.

Opposition parties, many of which emanated from the now-defunct protest movement supporting secular and democratic change, have struggled to mount a united challenge but could secure a stronger voice in parliament nonetheless.

"The elections are an opportunity to change the system and hold it accountable in a way that makes this country liveable," Vodolian said.

Top political barons have stalled an investigation into the explosion -- two of the main suspects are even running for a seat -- and legal proceedings against the Central Bank governor over financial crimes are equally floundering.

One of the most notable changes in the electoral landscape is the absence of former prime minister Saad Hariri, which leaves parts of the Sunni vote up for grabs by new players.

What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.

Dive Deeper:
Lebanon votes in first election since crisis
Beirut (AFP) - Lebanon voted Sunday in its first election since multiple crises dragged it to the brink of failed…
Lebanon votes in first election since Beirut blast, economic crisis
Polls opened on Sunday in Lebanon's first election since the deadly Beirut port blast and the country's economic collapse, making…
Lebanon awaits results of first vote since multiple crises
Beirut (AFP) - The results of Lebanon's first elections since multiple crises ravaged the country were expected Monday, with opposition…
Lebanon votes in first national election since onset of economic crisis
Low expectations that ballot for parliamentary seats will see breakthrough in dislodging entrenched ruling elite
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Crisis-hit Lebanon votes but few expect major change
Beirut (AFP) - Turnout was low as Lebanon held its first election Sunday since a painful economic crisis dragged it to…
Lebanon to vote in first election since financial meltdown
Lebanese vote on Sunday in the first election since their country's economic collapse, a test of whether Iran-backed Hezbollah and…
Get all your news in one place