First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

We'd like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick

More specifically, we'd like those who can afford to pay to start paying. What it comes down to is whether or not you value Daily Maverick. Think of us in terms of your daily cappuccino from your favourite coffee shop. It costs around R35. That’s R1,050 per month on frothy milk. Don’t get us wrong, we’re almost exclusively fuelled by coffee. BUT maybe R200 of that R1,050 could go to the journalism that’s fighting for the country?

We don’t dictate how much we’d like our readers to contribute. After all, how much you value our work is subjective (and frankly, every amount helps). At R200, you get it back in Uber Eats and ride vouchers every month, but that’s just a suggestion. A little less than a week’s worth of cappuccinos.

We can't survive on hope and our own determination. Our country is going to be considerably worse off if we don’t have a strong, sustainable news media. If you’re rejigging your budgets, and it comes to choosing between frothy milk and Daily Maverick, we hope you might reconsider that cappuccino.

We need your help. And we’re not ashamed to ask for it.

Our mission is to Defend Truth. Join Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Hezbollah and allies lose majority in Lebanese parliame...

Newsdeck

Lebanon

Hezbollah and allies lose majority in Lebanese parliament, final results show

The pole that supported the Revolution Fist, the symbol of Lebanon's uprising, is surrounded by ashes after the installation was set on fire, reportedly by supporters of the Hezbollah and Amal movements, in the aftermath of the Lebanese elections, in Martyrs' Square, Beirut, Lebanon, 17 May 2022. EPA-EFE/WAEL HAMZEH
By Reuters
17 May 2022 0

May 17 (Reuters) - Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies have lost their majority in Lebanon's parliament in a general election, a Reuters tally of final results showed on Tuesday, a major blow to the heavily armed group that reflects anger with Lebanon's ruling elite.

The Shi’ite Muslim movement and factions that support its possession of arms won around 62 of parliament’s 128 seats in Sunday’s election, a reversal of the 2018 result when they secured a majority of 71.

In the first election since Lebanon’s economic collapse and the Beirut port explosion of 2020, reform-minded political newcomers won about a dozen seats, making an unexpectedly strong breakthrough into a system long dominated by the same groups.

Hezbollah opponents including the Saudi-aligned Lebanese Forces – a Christian faction – gained ground. It claimed to have overtaken the Hezbollah-allied Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) as Lebanon’s biggest single Christian party.

The results leave parliament split into several camps, none of which have a majority, raising the prospect of political paralysis and tensions that could delay reforms needed to steer the country out of its devastating economic crisis.

While the 2018 election pulled Lebanon closer into the orbit of Shi’ite Muslim-led Iran, these results could open the way for Saudi Arabia to reassert influence in a country that has long been an arena for its regional rivalry with Tehran.

The final results on Tuesday included a record of eight women lawmakers – nearly half of them newcomers.

Unexpected upsets included the dislodging by two new MPs of Hezbollah allies Talal Arslan, heir to one of Lebanon’s oldest Druze political dynasties, and deputy speaker of parliament Elie Ferzli.

Sunni Muslim politician Faisal Karami, scion of another Lebanese political dynasty, also lost his seat in the country’s second city Tripoli.

 

“CRACK IN THE WALL”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called in a statement late on Monday for the swift formation of an inclusive government to stabilize the economy.

Sami Atallah, director of The Policy Initiative, a Beirut-based think tank, said that was unlikely.

He said groups within the “polarised parliament” would lock horns when electing a parliamentary speaker, naming the next prime minister and voting on a president later this year.

And while Hezbollah and the allied Amal Movement maintained their control of the 27 Shi’ite-allocated seats, they lost two seats in their traditional stronghold of south Lebanon.

Atallah said that could push them to take a hardline stance: “They don’t want to have a crack in the wall.”

Overnight, large crowds carrying Hezbollah flags gathered in downtown Beirut, chanting in support of the group, according to footage posted on social media. Reuters could not independently verify the videos.

By the morning, a giant cardboard fist in downtown Beirut that was first erected when protests against the ruling establishment erupted three years ago appeared to have been torn down and burned, according to a Reuters witness.

The 2019 demonstrations reflected anger at a political class seen as corrupt and inefficient. Since then, the country has plunged into an economic crisis that the World Bank has described as one of the worst since the Industrial Revolution.

The local currency has lost more than 90 percent of its value, reaching 30,000 pounds to the U.S. dollar on Tuesday – roughly a 10% loss since Sunday’s election.

But Lebanon’s central bank said on Tuesday it would continue to allow commercial banks to purchase dollars on its Sayrafa platform rate “without amendment,” an operation that has helped stabilize the exchange rate since it began in January.

The economic decline has pushed nearly three-quarters of Lebanon’s population under the poverty line, which election observers had warned could open the door to more vote-buying.

In a preliminary statement on Tuesday, the European Union Election Observation Mission said the poll had been “overshadowed by widespread practices of vote-buying, clientelism and corruption”.

By Laila Bassam and Timour Azhari

(Reporting by Laila Bassam, Timour Azhari and Lina Najem; Writing by Tom Perry and Maya Gebeily; Editing by William Maclean, Tomasz Janowski and Catherine Evans)

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

No Comments, yet

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted