Lebanon's new election law unlikely to upset balance of power

Men abound while women are rarely to be spotted on the lists of the mainstream parties competing for power in Lebanon's elections. India Stoughton  The National

Hezbollah has gained political ground in Lebanon and consolidated Iran's influence on the fragile state's affairs after winning, along with its allies, a small majority in national elections.

"The Lebanese voted for the Mustaqbal's agenda and we extend our hand to those seeking to cement stability", stressed Hariri. The latter is a good friend of the Saudis, and so is former prime minister Najib Mikati, who swept all seats in Tripoli in northern Lebanon, signaling that Saudi Arabia's long-time favoritism for Hariri has waned.

Recall that Hezbollah, since 2011 actively involved in the Syrian civil war on the side of Assad, is considered a terrorist organization in Israel, USA, Canada, and also in many Arab countries.

Hezbollah is proscribed as a terrorist group by the United States and its hold on Lebanese affairs has been problematic for a succession of U.S. and European leaders. With the turnout figure on course to fall short of the 54 percent mark set in 2009, several senior political leaders to made televised appeals for an eleventh-hour rush to the ballot boxes.

Such a result would cement Hezbollah's role in the Lebanese government as the strongest political power in the country.

He said he will continue to work closely with President Michel Aoun, who is allied with a rival bloc led by the Hezbollah terror group.

The tiny state of Lebanon, which is half the size of Wales, finds itself in the middle of a regional battle between Iran and its arch foe, Saudi Arabia.

According to a Reuters calculation based on preliminary results for almost all seats, Hezbollah and its political allies such as the Amal Movement and Free Patriotic Movement have won 67 out of the parliament's 128 seats.

Analysts predict that influential Shiite movement Hezbollah, backed by Iran and wielding a formidable arsenal it refused to give up after the civil war, would retain or slightly increase its clout in the legislature.

Lawmakers had extended their own mandate three times since 2009, ostensibly over security concerns linked to the war in neighbouring Syria and political divisions that led to long and crippling institutional crises.

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Official results are expected to be announced by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk later on Monday, although no time has been set.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, casts his vote for Lebanon's parliamentary elections, at a polling station, in Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday, May 6, 2018.

The next Cabinet, like the outgoing one, will likely be a unity government that includes Hezbollah.

The general election for Lebanon's 128-member parliament, Lebanon's first parliamentary elections in nine years, was held on Sunday, with over 500 candidates vying for seats. A doctor turned warlord and then politician, Gagegea is now establishing himself as leader of an impressive parliamentary bloc that will undoubtedly challenge Hezbollah within the Chamber - regardless of who controls the absolute majority.

The biggest victor so far is the right-wing Christian Lebanese Forces, which nearly doubled its number of seats to 15.

In some places people waited over an hour to vote.

Hariri said confusion over the new electoral process was behind the poor turnout.

A woman shows her ink-stained finger after casting her vote during the parliamentary election in Beirut, Lebanon.

Independent candidates running against the political establishment may have won two seats in Beirut.

The other heavyweight Christian party, Aoun's FPM, is projected to win 17 seats, which would make Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil an MP for the first time.

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