Elections 2018: Close electoral race expected in Beirut’s first district

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Beirut’s first district will set the stage for a battle pitting 5 electoral lists against each other, from establishment coalitions to civil society movements.

BEIRUT: 33 candidates will compete for 8 seats in Beirut’s first district in what is expected to be a highly contested electoral battle when voters hit the polls in the upcoming parliamentary elections on May 6.

Beirut’s first district will set the stage for a battle pitting 5 electoral lists against each other, from establishment coalitions to civil society movements.

The now-defunct March 14 alliance has failed to unite its ranks in the district, with the Future Movement striking an alliance with the Free Patriotic Movement (FMP) while the Lebanese Forces (LF), Kataeb and Minister of State Michel Pharaon have joined ranks.

The Future Movement and FPM are running under the banner of ‘Beirut Al Oula Al Qawiyya’ in attempt to thwart their main ‘Beirut Al Oula’ rivals from securing a majority of seats. The Future Movement and LF have seen their relationship strained in recent months, failing to come to terms except in Baalbeck-Hermel in an effort to deny Hezbollah a commanding win in the Shiite stronghold; and in Chouf-Aley after a partnership was brokered by Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt.

Lebanon’s three main Armenian parties have also chosen sides, as the Tashnag and Hunchakian Parties have aligned itself with the FM and FPM coalition, while the Ramgavar joined the Kataeb-LF ‘Beirut Al Oula’ list.

Beirut’s first district is a predominantly Christian area, home to Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Maronites and Greek Catholics, as well as different minorities.

Armenian Orthodox, which account for 28 percent of eligible voters, are reserved three seats, while the rest of the sects are each reserved one seat including minorities.

On the other side of the spectrum, the civil society movement ‘Koullouna Watani’ will attempt to break the establishment’s stronghold by seeking to reach the expected quotient of 7,000 votes.

Minorities are also expected to play a leading role this time around, as the lists running vie to sway support in their favor, most notably the Catholic and Orthodox Syriacs which account for almost 5000 eligible voters.  According to experts, they have the ability to tip the scales one way or the other.

In less than three weeks, Lebanese voters will cast their ballots across the country, electing their representatives for the first time since 2009 after Parliament ratified a new electoral law based on proportional representation across 15 electoral districts.

Lebanon’s new electoral law stipulates that each voter shall vote for one of the competing lists and shall be entitled to cast one preferential vote for a candidate of the same chosen list.

 

 

 

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