Lebanon held its first general election in nine years on Sunday, with thousands of citizens lining up at polling booths since early morning to cast their votes. As many as 583 candidates competing for 128 seats in Parliament, spread across 15 districts, Al Jazeera reported.
The polling will close at 7 pm local time (9.30 pm Indian Standard Time). Official results are not expected to come in till Monday or Tuesday, but analysts expect the early trends to emerge by Sunday night, BBC reported.
As many as 3.8 million (38 lakh) people are eligible to vote at 6,800 polling stations in the country. Lebanon’s government was supposed to finish its four-year term in 2013, but instability in neighbouring Syria and an effort to reform the country’s electoral system meant Parliament’s tenure was extended twice.
Under the new electoral law which introduces proportional representation, voters will be casting two votes: one for a list of candidates and another for a single candidate they prefer from that list, Al Jazeera said.
Fist fights and shootings have occurred in many parts of the country in recent weeks, AP reported. Thus, the administration has deployed thousands of army and police personnel at polling stations and near major intersections across the country to prevent violence.
The main contest is between a Western and Saudi Arabia-backed coalition headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, the news agency added.
“This shows Lebanon’s democracy and the importance of democracy,” Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said. “This is a democratic wedding, and as we said from the start, congratulations to whoever wins tonight.”
“When we see what is happening in countries around us and Lebanon is holding democratic elections, this shows that Lebanon is fine,” Hariri said after waiting in line to cast his vote.