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Hezbollah To Win Big In First Lebanese Parliamentary Elections In Nine Years

08 May 2018

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said the results will be announced on Monday.

Machnouk said "congratulations to all those who won in the elections", adding that the new parliament will convene on May 20.

Formed as a resistance movement during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s, Hezbollah is today a political, military and social organisation that wields considerable power in the country.

Lebanon held a much-delayed general election Sunday, with a new civil society list hoping for a breakthrough but traditional parties expected to renew their fragile power-sharing bargain.

The constitution stipulates that parliament is equally split between Muslims and Christians, whose biggest party, led by President Michel Aoun has been a Hezbollah ally.

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Hezbollah has also sent thousands of its fighters to Syria to support forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in battles against predominantly Sunni rebel forces and the jihadist group Islamic State (IS). This means that Hariri will likely continue to occupy the post, as his Sunni parliamentary bloc would be the strongest in the country's 128-seat parliament.

"The State of Israel will not differentiate between the sovereign State of Lebanon and Hezbollah, and will view Lebanon as responsible for any action from within its territory", Naftali Bennett, the education minister in Israel's conservative coalition government, wrote on Twitter on Monday.

The new, pre-printed ballots used on Sunday perplexed some voters, causing delays in polling stations. The Interior Ministry has not published its official results, 23 hours after polls closed.

Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is staunchly pro-Hezbollah, described the election as "a slap" for Hariri on its front page. In other polling stations, the counting was already under way. In the district of Choueifat south of Beirut, a crowd rebelled against a station supervisor and smashed a ballot box.

Hezbollah, along with affiliated groups and individuals, secured at least 67 seats, according to a Reuters calculation based on preliminary results for almost all the seats obtained from politicians and campaigns and reported in Lebanese media. They campaigned on firebrand Lebanese Christian nationalism, saying that they were opposed to the arms of Hezbollah, noting that arms ought to be only in the hands of the state, and were highly critical of Hezbollah's intervention in the Syrian conflict, saying it had attracted ISIS and other jihadi groups into the country.

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"We were betting on a better result and a wider bloc with better Christian and Shia representation", he admitted.

"The make-up of the new legislative chamber represents a guarantee and a great strength to protect this strategic choice and to protect the golden equation - the army, the people and the resistance", Nasrallah said.

In a speech on Sunday's parliamentary elections, Hariri said that his Future Movement faced several challenges but considered his party's performance as an election victory.

Hariri told reporters his party had won 21 seats, a drop from the 33 it controlled in the outgoing legislature.

West-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Future Movement suffered losses, said preliminary and unofficial results that came out in the Lebanese media on Monday, May 7.

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Preliminary and unofficial results, which are more or less expected to match the official count, show that Sunni voters are losing faith in Hariri's party amid a stagnant economy and general exasperation over the civil war in neighboring Syria which has brought 1 million refugees to Lebanon.

Hezbollah To Win Big In First Lebanese Parliamentary Elections In Nine Years