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Lebanon: opening of polling stations for the first legislative elections since the 2019 revolt

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Published on: 05/15/2022 – 06:56 Polling stations opened on Sunday in Lebanon for the first legislative elections organized in a country devastated by crises. This ballot is a life-size test for the opposition groups that have emerged in the wake of the 2019 uprising. The Lebanese vote, Sunday, May 15, to choose their deputies in legislative elections which should maintain the status quo in favor of the traditional political forces, yet held responsible for the worst socio-economic crisis in the country’s history. This election represents a first test for opposition groups that emerged following a popular uprising triggered in October 2019 to demand the departure of a political class accused of corruption and incompetence. From 07:00 (04:00 GMT), the polling stations opened for some 3.9 million voters called to the polls to renew the 128 members of Parliament. The results are expected on Monday. In Lebanon, a complex system of power sharing between the main confessions 02:00 © France 24 An important security deployment was noted by an AFP photographer, in the midst of representatives of political parties and volunteers. “I came vote because it’s the least we can do in Lebanon,” Nayla, a 28-year-old student, told AFP after voting in Gemmayzeh, an eastern district of Beirut. “We hope that the expected change will come, after the difficult years that Lebanon has known”, she added, saying that she was “in favor of change, (…) and new faces”. According to experts, independent candidates should win more seats than in last poll in 2018, but no major shift in the balance of power is expected. Corruption Elections are held under a law passed in 2017, tailored to the advantage of the ruling parties, and in the absence of the main Sunni leader Saad Hariri, who boycotts them. Legislati ves of 2018 had been dominated by the pro-Iranian Shiite movement Hezbollah – the only Lebanese faction to have kept its weapons after the civil war (1975-1990) – and its allies, in particular the Free Patriotic Movement (CPL) of President Michel Aoun and the Amal movement, led by Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri. the website of American think tank The Century Foundation. Lebanon has been mired since 2019 in a socio-economic crisis classified by the World Bank as the worst in the world since 1850 and caused by decades of mismanagement and corruption of a class leader almost unchanged for decades. In nearly two years, the national currency has lost more than 90% of its value on the black market and the unemployment rate has almost tripled. And nearly 80% of the population now lives below the poverty line, according to the UN. These are also the first legislative elections since the devastating explosion at the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, which had caused more than 200 dead and devastated entire districts of the capital. The free fall of the economy, insecurity and the collapse of basic public services have pushed a large number of families and young people to leave the country. Mariana Vodolian, spokesperson for the families of the victims of the explosion at the port, aspire to change through these elections. “We are against this political class which has governed us for 30 years and which is responsible for the economic collapse and the ‘explosion,” the 32-year-old told AFP. “These elections represent a chance for change, to hold those responsible to account so that we can continue to live in this country,” she added. . Despite the discontent, the political class takes advantage of the absence of the state, now unable to provide basic services such as electricity, medicine or fuel, to activate their networks of traditional community patronage, seeking to win the voters by offering financial aid. An approach that could pay off in a context of deep crisis, especially since independent candidates lack experience, resources and do not present a united front, according to experts In an April survey by the NGO Oxfam on voter turnout, 43.55% of Lebanese polled said they would abstain. More than half of them justified their decision by the absence of “promising candidates”. With AFP

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