Several new political groups have emerged from the opposition movement and are competing in Sunday’s race, coming face to face with the establishment parties.
Political observers consider this election highly competitive and unpredictable. Earlier this year, three-time Prime Minister Chad Hariri – the leader of the country’s largest Sunni Muslim parliamentary group – withdrew from politics and seized Sunni votes.
Hariri urged people in his constituencies to boycott the race. But in Beirut’s second electoral district – one of Hariri’s strongholds – a relatively large number of voters turned out, with many saying they had voted for CNN to “change.”
Long queues were seen Sunday morning at one of the polling stations in the vicinity of Beirut’s Tareek el Jdeedeh.
Referring to the long queues at bakeries and petrol pumps during some difficult days of last year’s economic crisis, Khalid Jadhari said, “The queues we stand in are queues of shame.” “This line is the line of pride.”
Ralph Debas, a New York-based adviser on the reformist electoral roll, told CNN that “I felt it was my civic duty to come and vote for Lebanon.” The 43-year-old added: “We need a wave of change. We need a wave of decent and responsible people in parliament.”
Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed armed political group, has also been the subject of much debate in the Lebanese election. Many political groups have vowed to try to disarm the Shia Party – which they believe dominates the political arena – and still have widespread support among its members.
Hezbollah’s election rallies – the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah urged people to vote en masse – attracted thousands of supporters this week.
The pro-Hezbollah coalition – which includes other Shia and Christian allies – holds a majority in the current parliament.
The small eastern Mediterranean country has had a confessional power-sharing system since its inception a century ago. The parliament is divided equally between Muslims and Christians, with the prime minister holding the position of Sunni Muslim, the presidency maronite Christian and its parliamentary speaker Shia Muslim.
“Friend of animals everywhere. Coffee maven. Professional food trailblazer. Twitter buff.”