Nearly 60% Lebanon diaspora voter turnout for May 15 polls

AFP , Monday 9 May 2022

The turnout of Lebanese diaspora voting in 58 countries ahead of May 15 parliamentary elections was nearly 60 percent, officials said Monday, similar figures to the last polls in 2018.

A handout picture provided by the Lebanese presidency shows Lebanese President Michel Aoun (L) at the Foreign Ministry headquarters in the capital Beirut overseeing the voting process for Lebanese expatriates as they vote ahead of the May 15 legislative election, on May 8, 2022. AP

Some 130,000 Lebanese expatriates out of 225,000 registered voters cast their ballots, foreign ministry official Hadi Hashem said, releasing preliminary figures.

While the number of overseas voters has more than doubled this year, they represent only a fraction of the millions of Lebanese residing abroad.

In 2018, roughly 50,000 people out of 90,000 registered voters abroad voted, a turnout of 56 percent.

The overseas ballots will now be sent to the capital Beirut for counting when polls close after nationwide voting on May 15.

The elections are the first since mass protests erupted in late 2019 against the country's entrenched ruling elite, widely blamed for the economic collapse.

Although many Lebanese hope they can vote traditional parties out, experts have said this is unlikely as opposition candidates lack unity, funds and experience.

The economic crisis has pushed middle-class Lebanese, including families, graduates, doctors and nurses to emigrate in search of a better future.

While opposition groups hope the diaspora will vote for change, only six percent of overseas voters picked independents in 2018, according to a recent report by the Paris-based Arab Reform Initiative.

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