Lebanon's parliamentary election raises hopes for changes
08 May, 2018, 02:25
"Hariri's loss will be the distinguishing mark of these elections, which will have consequences on the battle to form a new government", the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar daily wrote earlier on Monday.
Preliminary and unofficial results, which are more or less expected to match the official count, show that Sunni voters are losing faith in Hariri's party amid a stagnant economy and general exasperation over the civil war in neighboring Syria which has brought 1 million refugees to Lebanon.
The AP report also added that the new government would likely include Hariri's opponents from the Hezbollah group.
The powerful Shia group is a key political player in Lebanon where it has allied with the Christian party of President Michel Aoun and has participated in Hariri's government since December 2016.
Hezbollah was founded as a resistance movement to Israel.
The Iran-backed Shiite movement and its allies look set to secure a parliament bloc large enough to thwart attempts for it to disarm, a longstanding demand of its political enemies.
The two main protagonists of the country's first legislative polls in nearly a decade did not wait for official results to comment on the implications of a vote which was also marked by low turnout. "Hezbollah will benefit from the lack of a broad coalition against it", political analyst Imad Salamey said.
Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk put national turnout at 49 percent, compared to 54 percent in 2009.
The drop came despite a reformulated electoral law created to encourage voting through proportional representation.
On Sunday, Lebanese people voted for their favorite candidates competing for 128 parliamentary seats.
Hariri, and other senior politicians, blamed the unexpectedly weak turnout on a new electoral law which appears to have confused or disappointed voters.
The leader of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group said on Monday election that results are a "political and moral victory" for the resistance, as it refers to itself and its regional allies.
Hezbollah's seat gain may complicate relations with Western countries. Hezbollah has also backed Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in the country's civil war while its interference in countries like Yemen and Syria has earned it the terrorist label from a number of oil-rich Gulf nations.
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