June 16, 2009
The keenly-contested parliamentary elections in Lebanon resulted in poll victory for the pro-Western coalition known as the loyalists or March 14 group. MA Journalism student Eliana Maakaroun reports from Beirut.
The June 7th election in Lebanon was a contest between the two major political blocs - the loyalists (who refer to themselves as March 14th) and the opposition (known as March 8th).
Since February 2005, the country has not known a period of stability between the series of targeted assassinations, the 2006 war against Israel, the 2007-2008 sit-in led by the opposition, as well as the parliament’s stalemate on choice of president.
The victory of the loyalist bloc reassured the West. A March 8th poll win would have meant a victory for Hezbollah, and thus considered by the West a victory for both Syria and Iran.
In total, the loyalist bloc won 71 seats (including three independent seats) in the parliament, whereas the opposition won 57. Even though the opposition failed to win control of parliament, the Change and Reform bloc, led by General Michel Aoun, won the major Christian votes in eight out of 11 regions.
The biggest surprise regarding was the turnout as well as the number of Lebanese living abroad that came specifically to vote.
For the first time since the country’s independence, the elections took place during the same day in every Qada, region. It was also the last time that voters had to be over 21 years and six months old to vote. For the next legislative elections, they can be 18.
Compared to the last vote in 2005, the members of the parliament haven’t changed that much, which brings us to ask ourselves, is Lebanon truly moving towards a democracy? And what will be different this time regarding laws, the fight against all types of corruption, the GDP and the internal public debt that has risen from $35 billion to $50 billion since 2005.
The main question today remains the functioning of the government and whether the opposition will have a third the seats in government, meaning they can paralyse all activities according to the Lebanese Constitution.
A 12-minute documentary on the elections in Lebanon will soon be available for further information.