Hariri’s party loses third of its parliamentary seats

Beirut:The Lebanese Prime Minister’s political party, the Future Movement, lost just under a third of its seats after recent parliamentary elections, winning 21 seats, 12 less than the 33 held previously, the PM announced on Monday.

At a press conference in Beirut, Saad Hariri said he had hoped for better results in Sunday’s elections so his Sunni Muslim party could form a larger coalition with more Christian and Shiite Muslim members, Efe reported.

The Prime Minister reiterated that his party, which is supported by Saudi Arabia, should have done more to obtain better results in these elections.

Hariri blamed Sunday’s low 49.2 per cent voter turnout on people’s lack of understanding of the new electoral law, which for the first time establishes a proportional system with preferential voting and gives the right to vote to Lebanese people abroad.

Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system requires the prime minister be a Sunni Muslim, meaning Hariri is most likely to retain his premiership, while the speaker of parliament must be a Shiite and the president a Maronite Christian.

The Lebanese parliament is controlled by the Shiite group Hezbollah, the Christian Free Patriotic Movement of President Michel Aoun, and the Future Movement – the three main political forces in a system that distributes quotas among the different religious sects.

The election data announced by Hariri was the first result to be stated by the competing parties, while media outlets suggested that Hezbollah – an ally of Iran and Syria – would win the largest number of seats in the 128-member parliament, divided into 64 Christians and 64 Muslims.

The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, celebrated the results achieved by his group in the parliamentary elections.

Nasrallah said he would not jump to conclusions regarding the official results, but that he did consider his group’s objective had been reached.

Sunday’s elections came after parliamentary terms were extended three times – in 2013, 2014 and 2017 – due to political instability caused by the war in neighbouring Syria.