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EU Says Vote Buying, Clientelism Were Widespread in Lebanese Elections

EU Says Vote Buying, Clientelism Were Widespread in Lebanese Elections

Wednesday, 18 May, 2022 - 07:45
European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) during a press conference after the Lebanese Elections (EU EOM)

Due to a lack of financial and human resources, election preparations in Lebanon started very late, with the budget allocated less than a month before the polls, said the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) in Lebanon Chief Observer, Gyorgy Holvenyi.

On election day, the EU EOM deployed 167 observers to all 26 minor districts of the country and visited 798 polling stations.

Holvenyi reported that the atmosphere accompanying the electoral process was generally calm, but there were cases of local tensions.

The lack of training of polling staff became visible during the day through procedural errors.

The lack of training and the massive presence of candidate agents led to situations in which the polling staff was not entirely in control of the process.

The mission's initial report stated that widespread practices of vote buying and clientelism overshadowed the elections, distorted the principle of equal opportunities, and significantly affected voters' choices.

The campaign was vibrant but marred by various instances of intimidation, including on social media and instances of campaign obstruction, and the legal framework for campaign finance suffers from severe shortcomings concerning transparency and accountability.

While the freedom of speech was generally respected, the media failed to provide equal visibility and balanced coverage.

Head of the European Parliament delegation Brando Benifei said that democracy goes beyond elections.

Benifei stressed: "The structural political and economic reforms, which Lebanon needs to tackle the socio-economic crisis, the widespread corruption, and the political stalemate, cannot be postponed any longer.

"To this end, I would like to strongly urge all political forces in the newly elected parliament to focus on the well-being and the aspirations of the Lebanese people instead of pursuing short-term political gains."

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