2022 Lebanese Parliamentary Elections
Q: Lebanon’s parliament re-elected Berri as speaker. What does this mean for Lebanese politics?
A: On Tuesday, May 31, Nabih Berri was narrowly re-elected for a seventh term. Berri is the leader of the Shia Amal Movement and has been a close ally of Hezbollah. His re-election marks a success for Hezbollah and its allies and a set-back for oppositional parties.
However, barely winning by 65 votes in the 128-member parliament, it was the slimmest majority ever won by Berri since he first held this role in 1992. This political change can be largely attributed to growing grievances and distrust of Hezbollah. With parliament evermore split into several parties, none having a large majority, analysts fear this could encourage further political paralysis and stagnation within the Lebanese government.
Q: What were the election results?
A: According to the final results released on May 17, 2022, Iran-backed Hezbollah lost the parliamentary majority that they held since the 2018 elections. The Hezbollah-led coalition dropped by 10 members, decreasing from 71 to 61 seats in the parliament.
The biggest seat increase was from an anti-Hezbollah party, the Christian Lebanese Forces (LF), which now holds 19 seats. Accordingly, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), one of Hezbollah’s prominent Christian allies, dropped seats in the 2022 elections compared to the previous election.
Notably, the Sunni Future Movement, led by former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, did not participate in these elections, as Hariri withdrew from politics. The seats are divided among 11 religious groups, but the main players include Iran-backed Hezbollah, Shitte Amal Movement, Sunnis, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), the Lebanese Forces (LF), etcetera.
Q: Why is this election season of increased relevance and importance?
A: This season marks the first parliamentary election since the onset of the country’s economic crisis, one of the most severe in the world in over 150 years, according to the World Bank. The culmination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 Beirut Blast pushed almost 80 percent of the population below poverty lines. These problems intensified due to governmental corruption and egocentric mismanagement.
Major protests across Beirut, Tripoli, and other large cities have become prevalent, demanding parliamentary change for financial and governmental reforms. Thus, the election’s potential to reflect a better future for the Lebanese population possesses heightened importance.
Q: What is Hezbollah’s historic and current role in politics?
A: Founded in the midst of the Lebanese Civil War, Hezbollah originated to oppose and resist Israeli occupation and Western influence in the region. Characterized as a terrorist group by various Western countries, the group is back by Iran and has played a major role in supporting Syria’s al-Assad regime by sending thousands of fighters to Syria.
Within Lebanon, since Prime Minister Rafic Hariri was killed in 2005, it has been implicated by the UN that Hezbollah was involved in the assassination. In 2019, nation-wide protests due to economic worry demanded the political elite, including Hezbollah, to resign. Hezbollah held onto its power; however, Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned from political power.
Q: What is the structure of Lebanon’s parliament and running candidates?
A: There are 128 parliamentary seats open for elections. 718 candidates ran, including a record number of 118 female candidates. Although women comprise less than 5 percent of parliament, this year’s number of women running is almost a 40 percent increase from the previous elections in 2018.
Q: How was voting conducted?
A: Every resident or non-resident Lebanese citizen above the age of 21 may exercise the right to vote in the elections. Over 3.5 million individuals registered to vote in Lebanon, and approximately 225,000 voters registered from out of the country. Expatriate voters from over 45 countries casted their vote on either May 6 or 8, depending on their country of residence; voters in Lebanon cast their ballot on May 15.