Lebanese voters went to the polls to elect their parliament for the first time in nine years Sunday, with top parties expected to preserve a fragile power-sharing arrangement despite regional tensions.
The Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its allies could stand to reinforce their clout on the political game in Lebanon, a small country clamped between war-torn Syria and Israel.
The election comes after a drawn-out political stalemate finally produced a new electoral law in 2017 that introduced a proportional list-based system.
The campaign passed without major incidents but security forces were out en masse across a country still sporadically rocked by attacks and with a history of political assassinations.
Queues of voters started forming outside some polling stations in Lebanon’s main cities even before they opened at 7:00 am (0400 GMT). “It’s the first time I vote,” Therese, 60, told AFP outside a voting centre in central Beirut.
“I’ve come to support civil society because there’s nobody else I like in this country, but I doubt they will win,” she said. In the southern city of Tyre, 28-year-old Jalal Naanou said:
More than 3.7 million Lebanese are eligible to vote, and will chose from 597 candidates who are running on 77 closed lists for a seat in the 128-strong parliament.