The Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror organization and its allies are poised to win a majority of seats in Lebanon’s parliament, local media outlets reported Monday morning following the nation’s first general election in nine years.
Lebanese voters headed to the polls Sunday in the first election since Syria’s civil war began in 2011, leading to the migration of over one million Syrian refugees into the tiny nation of just over four million.
Turnout was low, Lebanon’s Interior Minister Noham Machnouk said, with just 49.2% of eligible voters participating in the election, down from 54% in 2009.
According to preliminary results, the Resistance Movement bloc of parties, led by Hezbollah, is expected to win more than 64 seats in the 128-member parliament.
Nevertheless, incumbent Prime Minister Saad Hariri is expected to hold onto power, with his Future Movement leading the largest Sunni Muslim bloc. Under Lebanon’s power sharing arrangement, the premier must be a member of the country’s Sunni Muslim population, and is chosen from the largest Sunni faction in the parliament.
Lebanon’s president, by contrast, is always a member of the country’s Christian community, which makes up roughly 41% of Lebanon’s four million citizens.
While the staunchly anti-Hezbollah Lebanese Forces faction, a Christian party with ties to Maronite militia groups, is expected to roughly double in size from 8 seats to 15-16, Hezbollah and its allies are projected to win at least 67 seats, Reuters reported, giving them at outright majority in the 128-member parliament.
The Hezbollah alliance in the parliament includes other Shi’ite factions, including the Amal Movement, led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, and the largely Christian Free Patriotic Movement.
Lebanon’s parliament is divided evenly along confessional lines, with 64 seats allotted to the country’s Christian population, and an equal number allotted to the Muslim population, leaving Hezbollah’s alliance dependent on Christian support for a majority.