Hezbollah, Allies Lose Gov't Majority 05/17 06:12
BEIRUT (AP) -- Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group and its allies lost their
parliamentary majority, while more than a dozen independents gained seats,
according to final tally released Tuesday. The results signal a significant
shift in country gripped by a devastating financial meltdown.
The Hezbollah-led coalition won 61 seats in the 128-member legislature, a
drop of 10 members since the last vote was held four years ago. The loss was
largely due to setbacks suffered by the group's political partners, and was not
expected to weaken the Iran-backed group's domination of Lebanese politics. All
13 Hezbollah candidates who ran got elected.
Still, the results were hailed as a breakthrough for groups opposed to
Hezbollah and the country's other mainstream political parties blamed for the
collapse, introducing more new independent faces than was expected.
Hezbollah's most vocal opponents, the nationalist Christian Lebanese Forces
party, emerged as the biggest winner, while its Christian rival, the Free
Patriotic Movement founded by President Michel Aoun, suffered a political
Though Christian, the Free Patriotic Movement is an ally of the Shiite
Muslim Hezbollah. The Lebanese Forces now has the largest bloc in parliament
with 19 seats, overtaking the Free Patriotic Movement, which now holds 17
seats, a drop of three seats from the previous vote.
Despite the setback, Hezbollah and its main Shiite ally, the Amal group of
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, retained the 27 seats allocated to the Shiite
Independents and newcomers, including those from the 2019 protest movement,
scooped 14 seats. That was a major achievement considering they went into the
vote fragmented and facing intimidation and threats by entrenched mainstream
Their showing sends a strong message to ruling class politicians who have
for decades held on to their seats and despite an economic meltdown that has
impoverished the country and triggered the biggest wave of emigration since the
1975-90 civil war.
"The results show that the Lebanese mood is against this ruling class and is
also against the political alignment with Iran," said Lebanese Forces official
Wissam Raji. "The Lebanese know that the situation has become disastrous and
the solution is not in the hands of the ruling class."
"The solution lies in radical change in the political map of Lebanon at all
levels," Raji said.
The results also portend a sharply polarized parliament, divided between pro
and anti-Hezbollah lawmakers who will find it difficult to work together to
form a new government and pass laws needed to to enact reforms for a financial
recovery in Lebanon.
With two main blocs -- Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces -- opposed to each
other, analysts said the results could lead to more paralysis at a time when
the country desperately needs unity.
The spokesman for the U.N. Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, called for
the "swift formation of an inclusive government" that can finalize an agreement
with the International Monetary Fund and accelerate the implementation of
reforms necessary to set Lebanon on the path to recovery.
The U.N. urged "the new Parliament to urgently adopt all legislation
necessary to stabilize the economy and improve governance," Dujarric said.
The biggest loss came to Hezbollah's allies with close links to Syrian
President Bashar Assad's government, including deputy parliament speaker Elie
Ferzli, Druze politician Talal Arslan who had held a seat for three decades,
Asaad Hardan and Faisal Karami, son of late Premier Omar Karami.
Sunday's parliamentary elections were the first since Lebanon's economic
meltdown began in late 2019. The government's factions have done virtually
nothing to address the collapse, leaving Lebanese to fend for themselves as
they plunge into poverty, without electricity, medicine, garbage collection or
any other semblance of normal life.
The vote is also the first since a deadly explosion at Beirut's port in
August 2020 that killed more than 200, wounded thousands and damaged parts of