Sunday was Lebanon’s election day. Two factionswere running; the 14 March Coalition and the 8 March Coalition. The Pro-Western 14 March Coalition is comprised of the Future Movement, Progressive Socialist Party, Christian Lebanese Forces, and the Christian Phalangist Party. The pro-Syrian/Iranian 8 March Coalition is comprised of Hezbollah, Amal, and the Free Patriotic Movement,Â 2 Shia andÂ 1 Christian parties.
Resultslate last night showed the 14 March Coalition as being in the lead, with final results expected this afternoon. As of last night, the polls showed 67 to March 14, 58 to March 8, two to independents, and another seven undecided. The Christian vote seemed to be evenly split between the 14 March, mostly Christian, Coalition, and the 8 March Coalition, with the [Christian] Free Patriotic Movement party. This shows a minor setback for Hezbollah, and may perhaps have implications as to the wishes of the Lebanese people. However, with only 52% of the eligible voters voting, it is difficult to tell the “will of the people” simply from the elections.
It is important to note that already the populationÂ is approximately 60% Muslim and 39% Christian, with the Shia as the largest growing religious group in Lebanon. The mixed Christian and Sunni coalition managed to pull of the majority in the elections. This, however, does not mean the end to civil strife in Lebanon, as the victory will not reach an overwhelming majority, which would simplify governance. As such, Hezbollah and its supporters will control a strong and substantial majority in Parliament, making pro-Western legislation difficult. Moreover, given the Hezbollah still militarily controls the South of Lebanon, it will be difficult fo rthe new government to impose any laws in that region.
Yet, the key to this whole story is that the voting went off democratically, as Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said, “I present this victory to Lebanon. It is an exceptional day for democracy in Lebanon.”