POLICY Statement

May 18, 2022: ATFL Commends Election Results Pointing towards Reform and Urges Unity to Solve Lebanon’s Challenges 

May 18, 2022

Washington, DC, May 18, 2022 (ATFL) – The American Task Force on Lebanon (ATFL), a leadership organization of Americans of Lebanese descent, commends the Lebanese people for participating in the May 15 parliamentary election. This was the first election since the October 2019 protest movement and the 2020 Port of Beirut explosion.

Final election results show that Hezbollah and its allies have lost a parliamentary majority, having captured just 58 seats, falling short of the 65 seats needed to establish a majority. However, Hezbollah maintained their 27 member bloc and will be anxious to leverage new allies to their side. `

The Free Patriotic Movement, which is aligned with Hezbollah, lost significant seats, which were mainly picked up by the Lebanese Forces. The Lebanese Forces are strongly anti-Hezbollah, and will be the largest Christian political party in parliament with 22 seats.

Independent and political newcomers were able to capture 16 seats, which is larger than many analysts predicted. They are joined by nine other candidates who are critical of the political establishment.

According to György Hölvényi, chief observer of the European Union’s mission, the elections were overshadowed by a number of voting irregularities. The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections tracked at least 3,600 violations, noting that political activists, mostly from Amal and Hezbollah, had attacked and threatened their observers.

Key challenges awaiting the new parliament include appointing a new prime minister-elect, forming a new government, implementing mandated reforms as part of the IMF Staff-Level Agreement, combatting endemic corruption, and selecting the country’s next president.

Many analysts point to gridlock as the next possible inhibitor of progress. There will be obvious sources of division not only between Hezbollah and its opponents, but also from the political newcomers and reformists who have yet to form their own bloc. Importantly, no coalition has been formed who can govern with a parliamentary majority and it is unclear how long the formation of such a coalition will take.

“We commend the Lebanese people for undertaking this democratic exercise,” said ATFL President Ed Gabriel. “These elections demonstrate the democratic passion of the Lebanese people to express their political views and the need for increased US investment in democratic institutions in Lebanon. While we are encouraged that the Lebanese people have sent a clear statement that they favor reform, the elections are over and now is the time to govern. The new parliament must come together, put aside partisan differences and respond to the urgent economic challenges that Lebanon faces. The Lebanese people do not have time to wait for politics as usual,” he added.

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