Lebanese go to polls to elect new parliament amid economic meltdown

Lebanese residents headed to the polls on Sunday to elect a brand new parliament in opposition to the backdrop of an financial meltdown that’s reworking the nation.

Sunday’s vote is the primary since Lebanon’s implosion began in October 2019, triggering widespread anti-government protests.

It can also be the primary election for the reason that huge August 2020 explosion at Beirut’s port that killed greater than 200 individuals, injured 1000’s and destroyed components of Lebanon’s capital. The blast was extensively blamed on negligence.

The extent of Lebanon’s collapse was on show Sunday. In the northern metropolis of Tripoli, Lebanon’s most impoverished metropolis, a number of polling stations had been with out electrical energy and voters needed to climb a number of flights of stairs to solid their ballots. 

At one polling station in Beirut crowds of individuals had been seen ready exterior the centre earlier than polls had even opened.

Some voters who solid their ballots informed the AP they had been hoping the election would result in change within the nation.

The voting is seen as a final probability to reverse course and punish the present crop of politicians, most of whom derive their energy from Lebanon’s sectarian political system and spoils taken on the finish of its 15-year civil struggle in 1990.

A brand new crop of candidates from the 2019 protest motion are operating in opposition to the nation’s entrenched ruling class that’s blamed for the financial collapse, hoping to unseat them.

But they’re divided and lack the cash, expertise and different benefits held by conventional political rulers.

The World Bank has described Lebanon’s collapse as one of many world’s worst prior to now 150 years.

But expectations for actual change had been low amid skepticism and widespread resignation that the vote was positive to convey again the identical political events.

Mainstream political events and politicians remained robust going into the vote, whereas opposition figures and civil society activists hoping to unseat them are fractured.

Some 718 candidates on 103 lists are operating for seats within the 128-member parliament.

The vote is held as soon as each 4 years. In 2018, voters gave the highly effective Hezbollah and its allies the bulk with 71 seats.

Lebanon has greater than 3.5 million eligible voters, lots of whom will solid their ballots in its 15 electoral districts.

Earlier this month, Lebanese residing overseas solid their ballots in international locations the place they stay.

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