May 15 elections hold little promise for change in Lebanon

By May 12, 2022

Lebanon (MNN) — State workers head to the polls today in Lebanon. Some 15,000 employees from public institutions are eligible to vote.

Heart for Lebanon workers help clean up in the aftermath of the 2020 port explosion in Beirut.
(Photo courtesy of Heart for Lebanon)

Ballot-casting takes place in the shadow of overlapping and overwhelming crises. Lebanon has been without a functioning government since 2019 when leaders stepped down in response to nationwide protests. COVID-19 further complicated matters, driving even more Lebanese into poverty.

Then, the 2020 port explosion in Beirut added a new level of chaos. Lebanon held the world’s highest inflation rate in 2021, and the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war cut food supplies earlier this year.

May 15 elections

The world views the upcoming elections as a catalyst for International Monetary Fund and World Bank loans. These loans are Lebanon’s only way to save a collapsing financial sector. Lebanese voters will pick leaders to fill the 128 seats of Parliament, divided among religious lines.

“Half of those are nominal Christians of all Christian faith groups, the Catholics, Orthodox, [etc.] and then the remaining 64 are divided among the Muslim faith groups,” Heart for Lebanon’s Camille Melki says.

“[Voters in] Lebanon were hoping for more bipartisan groups that put the country of Lebanon first, the needs of the people first. That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.”

Voting in Lebanon’s first parliamentary election in four years happens in phases. More than 100,000 Lebanese living abroad voted last weekend. The ballot papers will be shipped back to Lebanon and stored at the central bank before being counted.

Nearly 60-percent of the Lebanese diaspora participated in this year’s elections, up slightly from the last election cycle in 2018. Polls will open for the general public on Sunday.

Winner takes all

Parties aligning with Hezbollah currently hold a slight majority in Parliament. “Unfortunately, many statistics say Hezbollah will even get a greater majority than what it currently has,” Melki says.

(Photo courtesy of Heart for Lebanon)

“This puts a discouraging view in the minds and hearts of the Lebanese [because] Parliament is assigned to elect the next president at the end of October. A lot of hope was based on this election to see a change in the presidential elections, but it doesn’t look like that will happen.”

Nonetheless, hope remains. “Regardless [of] who gets elected, we are already seeing a significant change in the lives of the people of Lebanon because they have given up on earthly leaders; they’re looking for change elsewhere. That change is found in our spiritual message (the Gospel),” Melki says.

“Peace can only be attained through Christ, and changing to be a better person only happens through Christ.”

Help Heart for Lebanon spread the Good News here.



Header image displays a polling place in France for the 2022 Lebanese general election. (Wikimedia Commons)