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May 21, 2017: Lebanon hopes to vote for a new parliament

LEBANON - The country will hold its first parliamentary elections since 2009 – if Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s 30-member national unity government can agree on how the vote will be conducted. As of Apr 11, the issue was unresolved.

Michel Aoun’s election as president on Oct 31, 2016, ended the longest presidential vacancy in Lebanon’s history, and his appointment of Hariri as premier set the stage for the elections.

The unicameral 128-seat National Assembly extended its term for a second consecutive time in 2014 after parliamentary elections were postponed.

According to Al-Monitor in Dec 2016, adopting an electoral law will be the biggest challenge to the government. Some parties favor a proportional system. Others are against it. The existing 1960 law is based on a majority system. A mixed law would combine the majority and proportional systems.

When – or if – the election happens, it is expected to be a contest between established parties and new reformist groups. Reformists flexed some muscle against the established parties in municipal elections in May 2016, and are keen to do it again. Al-Monitor reports that an array of civil and reformist groups are reported to be calling for a coalition to increase the power of their challenge in the parliamentary round.

Seats are apportioned among the Christian and Muslim denominations. The established political blocs are March 8, a pro-Syria, Iran-backed umbrella group that includes the militant group Hezbollah and the Christian Free Patriotic Movement party. The Western-backed March 14 is dominated by the Sunni Muslim majority Future Movement party, and two large Christian parties, Lebanese Forces and Kateab.

#22016 Updated: 04/11/2017 UPDATED 11 APR TO SHOW MAY DATE AND UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THE VOTE

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