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Will New Faces at Lebanese Parliament Form Opposition Bloc?

Will New Faces at Lebanese Parliament Form Opposition Bloc?

Tuesday, 17 May, 2022 - 05:15
An electoral worker sits next to boxes as Lebanese await the official election results for the rest of the districts in Lebanon's parliamentary election, at the Justice Palace in Jdeideh, Lebanon May 16, 2022. (Reuters)

The results of the parliamentary elections in Lebanon have sprung several surprises, most notably among "revolution" groups that have reaped at least 10 seats, defying predictions and the odds given that they had waged the electoral battle on numerous lists instead of a united one.

These groups emerged in wake of the October 2019 popular uprising against the country's ruling elite that has been in power for decades and is largely blamed by the people for Lebanon's current devastating economic crisis.

Sunday's elections also led to surprises among the ranks of traditional opposition figures and parties, who may share some visions of the revolution, but are unlikely ally themselves with them.

Some members of the revolution groups refuse to align with traditional parties and politicians because they perceive them as part of the problem in Lebanon and because they differ with them over their view of Hezbollah and demands for the party to lay down its arms.

As official results were announced, the opposition revolution groups managed to achieve breakthroughs in the districts of Beirut, the Chouf, South, North and Bekaa.

Winners among the traditional opposition groups and politicians included the Kataeb party, Michel Mouawwad, former minister Ashraf Rifi, MP Oussama Saad, who was allied with Dr. Abdulrahman al-Bizri in the Sidon-Jezzine district, and others.

The challenge lying ahead for these oppositions figures is working together inside parliament to reach change they waged the electoral battle in the first place for.

Ibrahim Mneimneh, one of the winners of the revolution groups in the Beirut II district, and Bizri, a winner in Sidon-Jezzine, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the results of the elections were expected.

Mneimneh said he predicted that the revolution would win around ten seats in parliament.

"Our first mission after the announcement of the final results should be the formation of a united parliamentary bloc that represents all forces of change," he urged.

He added that some of these forces agree with the traditional opposition parties over some issues, but they are unlikely to come together in a united bloc.

This stage in Lebanon will be marked with consolidating the change in the country that has indeed started as revealed by the elections, he continued.

For his part, Bizri, who is the son of former MP and minister Nazih Bizri, said it did not come as a surprise for the revolution groups to win seats in parliament.

Rather, the surprise would have been if traditional political class, which has piled catastrophes on Lebanon, had won, he stated.

"We have chosen the confrontation, and in spite of the negatives of the proportional electoral law, the people expressed their views and proved that the elites have lost their clout," he added.

"Parliament will have a different role to play. The opposition against the political class will be clear and it will play a different role and shoulder many responsibilities after they were entrusted by the people," he went on to say.

"The people are banking on us to create change," stressed Bizri.

On whether the opposition will form a united bloc, he replied that the desire for cooperation is there and so are the common factors between the various groups.

The first step should be creating a united voice against the political system.

"We must then distinguish ourselves from it by reaching a cooperation mechanism that aligns with the views of the Lebanese people and their desire for reform."

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