“It’s a first step, but I blame all those who didn’t see fit to vote. » A little bitter in the face of the 41% participation rate recorded in the legislative elections of May 15, Layal, a 23-year-old student who was voting for the first time, nevertheless remains hopeful. Thirteen candidates from the “forces of change” broke the glass ceiling of the Lebanese Parliament, according to final results published on Tuesday.
→ ANALYSIS. In Lebanon, a legislative campaign cannibalized by the issue of Hezbollah
These newcomers with a heterogeneous profile will, however, have to sit in a highly polarized Chamber where the traditional parties have, against all expectations and despite the Lebanese’s annoyance, pulled out of the game. The powerful Shiite Hezbollah and its allies lost the majority gained in 2018, when they had obtained 70 deputies out of 128 seats. While the party led by Hassan Nasrallah and the Amal movement retain exclusive Shiite representation with 27 deputies, their allies, the Free Patriotic Movement (Christians) and pro-Syrian Druze parties, have recorded a decline, tilting the majority .
With 62 seats, this bloc will have to cohabit with that led by the Lebanese Forces (FL) of ex-warlord Samir Geagea, which gained ground by obtaining 19 seats. The Christian leader had claimed victory on Sunday, saying that his party was now the largest Christian formation in the country, a place previously occupied by the CPL of Gebran Bassil and his father-in-law, President Michel Aoun. In Parliament, the FL will be able to count on the support of their Sunni allies close to Saudi Arabia, such as Achraf Rifi in Tripoli, or on that of the Druze leader of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), Walid Joumblatt.
The risk of paralysis
This fragmentation of Parliament, where no bloc has a clear majority, is causing concern, while Lebanon remains entangled in a deep economic crisis, which the World Bank and the United Nations blame on the political class. Among the challenges of the new parliament, the appointment of a prime minister, then the composition of a government to replace that of Najib Mikati. And, by October 31, the election of Michel Aoun’s successor to the presidency. “We are going to have a rather chaotic political life, very polarized between the pro-Hezbollah bloc and that led by the FL”, summarizes the political scientist Joseph Bahout, who foresees “another fragmentation, with a break-up into small blocks for economic issues”.
A paralysis of the system would risk further delaying the implementation of crucial reforms to rebuild the country. “The negotiations between the blocks will be complicated, there will be no technical solution with the IMF before at least the beginning of 2023, that is to say after the presidential election”, presages Joseph Bahout. Pessimistic, the political scientist does not rule out the occurrence of “community violence” within a few months if the economic collapse continues and no solution is found for an already bloodless population.