On May 6, Lebanon is holding parliamentary elections, postponed because the Lebanese Parliament was unable to elect a new President in time (which was to happen before Parliamentary elections). There were 14 attempts and finally Parliament extended its mandate, with the elections now scheduled for May 6.
This will be the first election under under the new system with 15 districts proportionally electing MP’s to the 128-seat Parliament.
There are several lists, but two main blocks; the March 8 coalescing around Hizb’allah and the March 14 block around Saad Hariri (The so-called “Future Movement”).
The war in Syria – with Hizb’allah supporting President Assad and the current Premier Hariri supporting the opposition – has severely affected the situation in Lebanon as well. The polarization is obvious and the many difficulties in putting together ruling coalitions and choosing a President is signs of this.
Hizb’allah is without any doubt the strongest force in Lebanon today, politically and militarily. The new system is more complicated and even though analysts in Lebanon agree that the outcome will probably upset current power-structures, they differ as to whether it will affect Hizb’allah negatively or not.
Potentially however, and most intriguing in the longer run looking at the overall political situation in Lebanon and its relations to traditional allies in the Gulf, the new system does give an opening to contest Hizb’allah in the traditionally strong Shiite South. There Hizb’allah is challenged not so much by the Future Movement as by newcomers and independents tapping into the increasing resistance to the war Hizb’allah is deeply involved in in Syria. And a sign of how serious Hizb’allah is taking this potential threat is the fact that on April 22, early in the morning, thugs loyal to Hizb’allah beat up Ali Al Amin in his hometown of Chakra. Al Amin is the head of the only truly independent list challenging Hizb’allah in the South.