Lebanon After the Elections

By Jaafar El-Ahmar

Lebanon’s parliamentary elections are one stop on a multi-step political path, and although they are not a focal station, as some would like to portray, as a result of the Lebanese sectarian regime, the elections undoubtedly reflect the general mood in the country.

It is useful to note that the elections of May 15, 2022 were held against the backdrop of several elements that played a role in one way or another in their results:

1 – Popular protests launched in October 2019, against high prices and corruption

2 – Beirut port explosion in August 2020

3 – Living and social crisis worsens against the backdrop of the collapse of the financial and economic situation

4 – Future Movement ( President Saad Hariri) withdrawal from the elections and political life.

It is easy to view the results of the Lebanese elections as a success for one coalition and a loss for another, Namely A loss to Hezbollah and its Iranian-backed allies, and a success for its Saudi-backed opponents and the United States.

This view involves a significant simplification that compromises understanding of the overall picture of the elections and their results, as well as the Lebanese landscape in general.

The equation of numbers, majority and minority, does not reflect the real balance of the political power in Lebanon for the simple reason, that’s the nature of the sectarian system in Lebanon, a system that has not been able to develop itself since its establishment after it was enshrined in a series of laws and customs, most notably the electoral law adopted to suit the ruling political class and devote its control over the country.

The most recent example is the re-election of Nabih Berri, head of Amal Movement, Hezbollah’s first ally, as speaker of the parliament Today (Tuesday May 31, 2022), despite the alliance’s loss of a parliamentary majority.

The advantage of this election is not in the exciting headlines that most media, analysts and experts have raced for, which came with the same content: the loss of Hezbollah and its allies the parliamentary majority, but the advantage of these elections is the success of 13 new candidates, representing the protest movement that began in October 2019.

This success has become a hope for many Lebanese, not necessarily to change the political equations or solve the severe economic and financial crises that are ravaging Lebanon, but these results give the Lebanese hope for the possibility of change, after they lost this hope as a result of the control of all the joints of the state by corrupt the traditional political forces.

But this new factor, which is the success of 13 new deputies, faces significant challenges, first by presenting a different model from traditional political forces, in objectives, approaches and performance, especially in support of a modern non-sectarian system, that guarantees equality and justice for all citizens, fighting corruption and providing the basic needs (electricity, gas, water, health).

This new approach, if enshrined, alone will promote this hope with future changes.

However, so far, we cannot name these new deputies as changers, or reformers, waiting to know their orientation in the economic, financial and social areas before politics, especially since there is a difference in their orientation. This poses the second challenge, namely their ability to form a compact parliamentary bloc that can have an influential voice in parliament’s directions and government decisions.

In summary, it is unfair to rely on these 13 deputies to make a big difference in the country, or to reform what traditional politicians have corrupted for decades, especially to lift the country out of financial and economic crises and stop corruption, etc. because of their limited number first, and the nature of the system and alliances, second.
But without a doubt, the success of these new deputies represents a glimmer of hope for the Lebanese at a time when they are almost losing hope in everything.

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