American University of Beirut

What's New about the New Parliament?


​​June 8, 2022​

What is happening with wheat in Lebanon?​ ​​

Surprisingly, the voter turnout was roughly on par with the turnout in 2018. Especially considering how the worsening economic situation made it costly for people to vote. For the first time, the Lebanese diaspora was allowed to vote from abroad, which helped increase the voter turnout number.

The big difference, though, is the competitiveness of independent candidates. We have at least 14 independent candidates from different political and ideological backgrounds who won this election, which surprised many. Women candidates have increased to eight, up from six. This is less than 10 percent of parliament. However, it is still important to note that many are new faces without the traditional links to political families or familial relations with former politicians. That is a hopeful sign that the women's movement in Lebanon is growing and may run more independent candidates in the future. Although the number of independent candidates is still minimal and will not be enough to make an immediate change, they are hopeful signs of progress in the movement that came from the thawra.

Which parties lost influence and which gained? How will this affect the new government?

Unfortunately, I see a scenario where there will be paralysis. Lebanon will not be able to form a new government until the presidential election, which is not slated for another four months. A void will persist up until the presidential elections. We may see an election of a prime minister, but they will be unable to form a new government.

We can see that the Future Movement, the party of former prime minister Saad Hariri, is absent, having withdrawn his party from the election. Gibran Bassil's party and their allied MPs have dropped from 29 seats to 21. Hezbollah has not lost any of its seats, but it did lose key ally MPs, which means they have lost some of their power in parliament. More importantly, the Lebanese Forces and independent candidates have increased their share of seats by a significant number. This has created a new political calculus for the political elite as no significant majority exists anymore.

A few independent candidates won seats. Do you think there are enough of them to have an impact?

You have some new MPS that were active in the thawra and seem genuinely interested in change. These 14 emerging MPs are not united and do not necessarily share the same ideology but could form a new block to make a change. In parliament, you need 10 members to create a parliamentarian group. This is important because parliamentary groups can ask for speaking time in parliament, table and present new rules, make appeals, and perform other legislative processes. If they can form a group, they can propose laws that benefit Lebanese society, forcing the traditional parties to hold a vote. Ideally, they can mitigate the corruption and push for some reforms, however minor they may be.

How will the election affect IMF negotiations? 

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, government formation is going to b​e complicated. There's too little time to form a new government, which is why many diplomats and politicians were trying to push for an IMF deal before the election. I do not see anyone willing to spend any political capital to make this happen before the presidential elections.

Might we see a change to the sectarian system?

The sectarian system is complicated to change. The last time this was touched led to a civil war that lasted 15 years. Of course, we need change, but doing system-wide changes during a crisis of the magnitude Lebanon is suffering from will be very hard. We need to focus more on making the day-to-day lives of the Lebanese people better. If the new MPs can do so, it will prove that change is possible, incentivizing people to elect more independents to make systemic change in Lebanon.

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