Grassroots Lebanon coalition claims sweeping victory in Beirut engineers' syndicate election

Grassroots Lebanon coalition claims sweeping victory in Beirut engineers' syndicate election
A coalition of grassroots, independent and secular groups won the engineers' syndicate election in the Lebanese capital.
2 min read
28 June, 2021
The win was seen as a victory for newly found, anti-ruling class groups [Getty Images]

Lebanon's independent and grassroots movements claimed a sweeping victory Sunday in Beirut's engineers' syndicate elections, in what has been described as another major blow for the ruling political class.

Al-Naqaba Tantafed, or "The Syndicate Rises", garnered a total of 7,650 votes, clinching six out of seven branches of the engineers' syndicate in the capital.

Several parties and secular groups - some of which were founded after the October 2019 uprising began - formed the coalition to oppose Lebanon's ruling elite.

Lebanon’s mainstream, sectarian parties won in the syndicate's smallest branch, which represents employees and contract workers of the state.

Many saw the sectarian parties’ win in that branch reflected their culture of clientelism, where only people with connections to a certain party or politician gave them their vote.

The alliance of mainstream parties also included parties who claim to be political rivals, continuously bickering over their share in government seats and accused of widespread corruption.

A third candidate list made up of one major Christian party and some independents also ran in the elections but failed to win a majority in any syndicate branch.

This election in Beirut, held at the syndicate's headquarters in the Bir Hassan neighbourhood, had been postponed several times for various reasons, as many believed the ruling class' parties knew they were in for a huge loss.

It comes amid growing frustration over Lebanon’s worst-ever economic crisis and currency crash, which has left about half of the population struggling to meet their basic needs.

Subsidies that once kept a cap on prices of essentials such as fuel, bread and pharmaceuticals are gradually being lifted, as the electricity sector remains in a chronic state.

Grassroots movements - or as they have been labelled "the revolution" - have secured other syndicates and Beirut's prestigious universities.

The Beirut Bar Association election in November 2019 was seen as the first major victory against the ruling class and its establishment.

Student elections at the American University of Beirut, the Lebanese American University, and Saint Joseph’s University also saw mainstream, sectarian parties lose in most faculties for the first time.

While this has left many Lebanese feeling optimistic that political change could be on the horizon, others have argued the trend does not represent a major shift in mainstream opinion, with the hold of established parties remaining strong.

Parliamentary elections - the first since the 2019 uprising - are scheduled for Spring next year.