Amid Low Turnout, Polls Close in Lebanese Parliamentary Elections

Middle East: Lebanon awaits outcomes of first parliamentary elections in nearly a decade

Lebanon Elections Syria Shadow

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, casts his vote for Lebanon's parliamentary elections, at a polling station, in Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday, May 6, 2018.

He said Hariri will always stand against Hezbollah and prevent the Shiite militants from dominating Beirut, adding that his city will not become the fourth Arab capital dominated by Iran - a reference to Iran's influence in Syria's Damascus, Yemen's Sanaa and Baghdad.

"Hezbollah is ruining our relations with regional countries" - a reference to Hezbollah's military intervention in Yemen, Iraq and Syria that has led several oil-rich Gulf states to join the United States in naming it as a terrorist organization.

In addition, there are 82,965 expatriate voters as well who were eligible to cast their ballots earlier in the week last week.

By mid-afternoon, he stated the voter turnout had reached 24 p.c and that preliminary outcomes would begin coming in a number of hours after polls shut at 1600 GMT. Officials said a slow voting process had prevented many from voting in time.

"This means that I voted, and I'm happy that I voted and took part in change", said Guy Farah, a 36-year-old salesman showing the ink stain on his thumb as he walked out of a Beirut polling station.

Under the terms of a new electoral law that introduced proportional representation, voters will be casting two votes; one for a list of candidates and one for a single preferred candidate.

Despite the popular prediction that this year's election is unlikely to fundamentally change the political division as most of the old guards are expected to retain power, many voters are still upbeat about it and the country's future.

M - Lebanon has held parliamentary elections for the first time in nearly a decade.

Results are expected to be announced Monday, and could shift the balance in the nation's coalition government.

Though having enjoyed relative peace due to the delicate political balance reached among the Christians, Muslims and the Hezbollah since the 1975-1990 civil war, Lebanon has always been ruled by traditional powers including previous warlords and influential families.

"The Burj al-Barajneh blasts made us more determined", said Harb, her face framed by a black traditional Islamic head scarf.

At the same time, independent parties and female candidates had high hopes they could put even a crack in the wall of the political dynasties that have ruled the small, crisis-prone country for decades. Former prime minister Najib Mikati said turnout was a disappointing because "people reject the current [electoral] law".

The leading voice calling for the Tehran-funded movement to give up an arsenal that has now grown to outgun the national army has been Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Though Hezbollah's opponents still want it to disarm, the demand has slipped down the political agenda.

An anti-Hezbollah alliance led by Hariri and supported by Saudi Arabia won a majority in the Lebanese parliament in 2009, but it has since disintegrated.

The country has been wracked by political paralysis and the knock-on effects of the Syrian civil war since its last vote nine years prior. Now that elections are over, the risk of an Iran sponsored Hezbollah attack have increased.

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