Lebanon parliament elections: The 5 biggest surprises so far

Lebanon parliament elections: The 5 biggest surprises so far
4 min read
16 May, 2022
Big surprises have been announced as Lebanon election results trickle in, with big wins for anti-establishment reformist groups.
The elections have seen anti-establishment candidates make gains in several districts [Getty]

Welcome to The New Arab's coverage of Lebanon's General Election 2022 held on May 15, 2022. Follow live updates, results, analyses, and opinion in our special hub here.

Preliminary results in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections have indicated that members of the country's establishment parties have lost seats, while a number of reform-minded, opposition candidates sealed victory.

Independent candidates - and even some traditional parties - focused on the political class's culpability in Lebanon's economic crisis during their election campaigns.

Many used slogans from Lebanon's 2019 October uprising, when millions took to the streets to protest the country's rampant corruption and mismanagement.

Here are the biggest surprises in the election so far.

Opposition wins in Hezbollah heartland

One of the biggest surprises came from the South Lebanon 3 district, where Shia Muslims make up a vast majority of constituents.  

The "Together Towards Change" opposition list faced the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies and has managed to win two seats, kicking out the divided Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP)’s Asaad Hardan from the race, as well as banker Marwan Kheireddine.

The win was unprecedented in a region tightly controlled by Hezbollah and its allies.

Long-time Druze leader out

The "United For Change" list in Mount Lebanon’s Chouf and Aley district appears to have grabbed three seats, booting out Talal Arslan, a Hezbollah and Syrian regime ally.

Arslan is head of the Lebanese Democratic Party. He had long preserved his parliament seat due to a consensus between him and Druze rival Walid Junblatt.

"United For Change" saw a Druze, Christian, and Sunni candidate win. A fourth is possible.

Victory in Beirut

The capital - divided into predominantly Christian east and mainly Muslim west under the election law - saw at least one MP win in each district as of Sunday night.

Paula Yaacoubian, the only candidate to win a seat from the non-sectarian opposition alliance in 2018, retained her seat in east Beirut. She was running on the "For My Nation" list, while Ibrahim Mneimneh from "Beirut For Change" list also gained enough votes to become an MP.

Unofficial results show that more candidates from each district could possibly win, especially in west Beirut, which saw 10 candidate lists running against each other.

Saad Hariri’s mainly Sunni Muslim supporters boycotted the election. Beirut’s Tareeq al-Jadeedah neighbourhood is considered a stronghold of Hariri’s Future Movement party.

The presidents' district

North Lebanon’s 3 district, which consists of a large Christian majority and is made up of four regions, could see the "Our North" opposition list win at least one seat.

This electoral district, in particular, is known as "the presidents’ district" as a number of potential presidential candidates hail from here. The presidency in Lebanon is reserved for a Maronite Christian.

It registered one of the highest numbers of expatriate voters, particularly in Australia, to where thousands fled the country during or just after the 1975-1990 civil war.

Winning a seat here in the face of strong Christian parties like the Lebanese Forces, the Free Patriotic Movement and the Marada Movement was challenging.

Last-minute indie win in the Beqaa

A candidate on the opposition list "Sahlona wel Jabal" - an excerpt from the national anthem which translates to "Our Valley and the Mountain" - won after a tight race in the Western Beqaa district, where the opposition was worried about possible election fraud.

Supporters gathered outside a government building for hours waiting for the final result to be announced as news emerged of ballot boxes arriving from Syria. This would have possibly tipped the balance in favour of Yassine's rivals.

Long-time establishment figure and parliament deputy speaker Elie Ferzli was confirmed a loser.

The district is religiously and politically diverse, where "Sahlona wel Jabal" was battling against most establishment parties.

Elsewhere in Lebanon the ballots are still being counted and it is still unclear when the official results will come out. 

The remaining votes could favour opposition or establishment parties candidates from either side of the political spectrum but the 2022 polls appear to reflect widespread resentment towards the ruling elite.