Lebanese expats vote in parliamentary elections

AP , Sunday 29 Apr 2018

Lebanese expatriates began voting Sunday in the first parliamentary elections held by the tiny Arab country in nine years

People queue to vote for the Lebanon's parliamentary election on April 29, 2018, at the Lebanon consulate in Paris. The Middle Eastern country has not held a parliamentary poll since 2009 and a new law now allows Lebanese living abroad to vote for the first time since independence in 1943. Some 116 polling stations in Lebanese embassies and consulates in 39 countries are set up to vote, but only an estimated 82,900 people have registered to take part. (Source AFP photo)

Lebanese expatriates began voting Sunday in the first parliamentary elections held by the tiny Arab country in nine years

The current legislature has extended its term several times, citing security threats linked to the war in neighboring Syria. Lebanon's political system distributes power among the country's different religious communities, and the main parties are led by political dynasties that fought one another during the 1975-1990 civil war.

Sunday's vote in 33 countries comes two days after thousands of Lebanese voted in six Arab countries.

The vote marks the first time that Lebanese are allowed to vote abroad. Millions of Lebanese live abroad, but Lebanon's state-run news agency says the number of registered voters is 82,970. The voting inside Lebanon will be held next Sunday.

Australia has the largest number of registered voters, with about 12,000, followed by Canada with 11,438 and the United States with about 10,000.

This year's vote is according to a new election law that is based on proportional representation, implemented for the first time since Lebanon's independence in 1943. Voters will choose one list of allied candidates, as well as a preferred candidate from among them.

Lebanon's 128-member parliament is equally divided between Muslims and Christians.

The house's term was supposed to expire in 2013, but lawmakers have approved several extensions since then.

The main competition will be between two coalitions, one that is led by the Iran-backed Hezbollah group and the other by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Western ally who holds Saudi citizenship and is a critic of Tehran.

Despite the rivalry between Hariri's Future Movement and Hezbollah, both are part of the national unity government and will most likely be represented in the Cabinet formed after next week's vote.

Short link: