Lebanon's election concludes with low turnout, multiple violations

Lebanon's election concludes with low turnout, multiple violations
Turnout in Lebanon's 2022 elections was lower than expected, and marred by electoral violations.
3 min read
15 May, 2022
Citizens arrive to cast their votes at a polling station during general elections in Beirut, Lebanon on 15 May 2022. [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.

Lebanon's polls closed at 7 pm on Sunday night, marking the conclusion of the country's first parliamentary election since the beginning of its economic crisis in 2019.

Turnout was low, according to the Ministry of Interior, which reported a 41 per cent participation rate by the time of publishing. The previous election in 2018 had a participation rate of about 50 per cent.

The ministry clarified that the final vote count could not begin until all centres had reported back – a number of polling stations had not finished voting, despite the official closure of polls three hours earlier.

Analysts had expected a high turnout for the election, as the campaign season was intense and the stakes high. The election took place against the backdrop of Lebanon's economic crisis, deemed one of the world's worst since the 1850s.

The economic implosion has left over two-thirds of the population impoverished and sparked mass emigration of the country's youth.

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Independent candidates and even some traditional parties made the political class's culpability in Lebanon's economic crisis a key focus of their campaigns. Many used slogans from Lebanon's 2019 October revolution, when millions took to the streets in protest of the country's rampant corruption.

Opposition activists were on edge at the end of the day, as the low turnout gave some pause to the momentum their electoral lists had enjoyed in the run up to the election.

"This could really go either way, simply because of the low turnout. Everyone who wanted to vote for change showed up and mobilized. This means that the low turnout could be people from traditional parties," Samer Makarem, the secretary of opposition party Minteshreen, told The New Arab.

Election monitors also recorded elections violations throughout the country. The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) shared a video of Hezbollah representative placing ballots in envelopes at a polling station.

A reporter for local media outlet Megaphone, was also assaulted after he filmed an alleged instance of vote tampering in Nabatieh, a Hezbollah and Amal dominated city in southern Lebanon.

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Disability advocates also complained that planned accessibility accommodations were not put into place at numerous polling stations across the country. According to the EU observer mission, two-thirds of polling stations were inaccessible for those with limited mobility.

Despite the Ministry of Interior cautioning that a final count had not yet begun, parties across Lebanon had already began to project results.

Opposition candidates triumphantly announced their victories in various districts, such as in the third southern district. If the independent candidates' projections match up with official counts, it would be a huge blow to Lebanon's establishment parties and a historic win for the opposition.

The Ministry of Interior said that official results could take up to 48 hours, depending on the logistics of ballot counting.