Election officials count ballots shortly after polling stations closed in Tripoli, Lebanon, on Sunday. AP
The results of Lebanon’s first elections since multiple crises ravaged the country were expected on Monday, with opposition groups hoping for modest but unprecedented gains.
According to provisional turnout figures, 41 per cent of Lebanon’s 3.9 million registered voters cast a ballot Sunday in 12 hours of polling that saw several irregularities and minor incidents.
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A new generation of independent candidates hopes to kindle the kind of change that a 2019 protest movement failed to deliver, and looked likely to do better than the single assembly seat they clinched last time.
But most of parliament’s 128 seats are expected to remain in the grip of the entrenched groups blamed for the country’s woes — chiefly the economic downturn that plunged most of Lebanon into poverty.
The candidates’ representatives attend the meeting after close of a polling station in Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday. AP
For many voters, the election was a chance to vent their anger at the hereditary ruling elite that an October 2019 uprising, the country’s financial default and a cataclysmic 2020 explosion in the heart of the capital failed to remove.
“These elections are first and foremost a means of rooting out this political class and getting back our Lebanon,” said Shadi, a 38-year-old whose flat was destroyed in the Beirut blast, declining to give his second name.
Like many others who posted pictures on social media Sunday, he chose to dip his middle figure in the bottle of electoral blue ink after casting his ballot.
Lebanon’s parliamentary candidate Gibran Bassil (centre) meets supporters at his residence in Batroun. AFP
In a bankrupt country which can only supply two daily hours of mains electricity to its inhabitants, one of the main challenges facing the interior ministry was powering polling centres.
Despite government assurances, several outages were reported and in some polling stations, voters had to use the flashlights on their mobile phones to find the slot in the ballot box.
“Even if hopes of success are small, we voted to show them that they are not alone in the country,” said 32-year-old Jad Abdel Karim, who voted in South Lebanon.
“We want to build a country even if it will take time.”