Support continues for Beirut Madinati despite disappointing election results

Support continues for Beirut Madinati despite disappointing election results
Lebanese voters continue to show support for Beirut Madinati, a new grassroots campaign that has revived hope for change, despite losing the country's municipal elections.
2 min read
09 May, 2016
Despite losing the elections, Beirut Madinati has revived hopes for change [AFP]

Lebanon's Future Movement looks set to score a victory in Beirut's municipal elections, which were held on Sunday for the first time in six years.

If the preliminary results are correct, it would reaffirm former Prime Minister Saad Hariri's solid hold over the capital with his anti-Syrian regime Future Movement.

The sweeping win by Hariri's "Beirutis' List" came despite a low voter turnout of only 20 percent. 

Despite this, it was also an election that inspired hope and energy among younger, liberal voters, who hoped that a change to the sectarian-driven political system had finally arrived.

On Monday morning it became clear that joy had turned to disapointment for the Beirut Madinati ["Beirut is my city"] camp, the new grassroots' campaign that has taken on entrenched party politics and attracted masses of young Lebanese to their cause.

The 24-candidate list of independents is equally split between men and women, and Muslims and Christians. It included teachers, fishermen and artists such as famed actress and film director Nadine Labaki.

The campaign was founded in 2015 shortly after a trash crisis in the summer sparked protests.

Young demonstrators demanded a solution to growing piles of waste that had developed on the outskirts of the capital, and an overhaul of paralysed government institutions. The enthusiasm and optimism it brought young Lebanese of all religious and class backgrounds in Beirut, inspired others working overseas.

Beirut Madinati's programme was aimed to attract voters frustrated by poor infrastructure and public services.

It included plans to improve public transport on the traffic-clogged city streets, introduce more green spaces, make housing affordable, and implement a lasting waste management solution.

Despite losing the elections, the campaign will likely continue and pressure the deeply divided political scene.

Translation: Even if Beirut Madinati lost the elections, it still represents me and the free enlightened youths of Beirut.

Translation: Regardless of the election results, it remains a win for Beirut Madinati. It has planted an idea, which we will build on.

This was Lebanon's first election of any kind since the last municipal polls in 2010.

The country has been without a president since May 2014, when the mandate of Michel Sleiman expired. The country's Christians, Sunni and Shia Muslims and Druze who each have set government roles cannot agree on a candidate.

Yet Madinati's secular and non-sectarian alligned politics offers a break from the entrenched, quota system which has led to government paralysis and war. Perhaps next election will be Madinati's chance to shine.