As the minister of interior announced the results of Lebanon’s May 15 legislative elections, speculation began about whether or not the configuration of the new parliament foretold a brighter future for the tormented country. While some of the results indicate positive breakthroughs and progress, there are several nuances indicating that much greater change is still needed to put the country on a steady path to recovery.
At least 80 percent of parliamentary seats were won by the same traditional corrupt parties or figures that have formed the political system for decades. This figure may be stunning to some, given that these are the parties and figures directly responsible, certainly to varying degrees, for Lebanon’s current predicament.
However, a closer look at the results of the 2022 elections reveals that the commitment of hundreds of thousands of voters and the relentless efforts of Lebanon’s diaspora groups actually led to some important breakthroughs in a context of restrained electoral competition. Although these breakthroughs would not have been possible without the convergence of other contextual factors (such as the nature of the electoral law, maneuvers in some districts by traditional parties and withdrawals of some candidates), they do indeed constitute a basis for hope, point to some immediate political gains and most importantly call for a larger mobilization in favor of change in the upcoming 2026 elections.
Without consideration of the results, it is obvious that several flaws of the electoral process continue to allow or encourage fraud and undermine the legitimacy of future popular consultations.
Outrageous and uncontrolled electoral spending, the persistent buying of votes, iniquitous paid-for media appearances, an electoral management body (EMB) entirely subdued by the ministry of interior, lacking funding, a restrictive voting procedure that requires traveling to one’s hometown to vote, intimidation (at gun point in some cases), impunity and co-optation (or inaction) of the judiciary as well as other violations, all need to be addressed as soon as possible, not a few weeks before the 2026 elections.
The starting point for an overdue and much needed electoral reform would be the establishment of a robust independent EMB and the adoption of voting mega centers.
While the final reports of the main Electoral Observation Missions (including the European Union, LADE) have not yet been published, it is expected that the final verdict, as foreshadowed by the statement of the international support group for Lebanon, will consider that the multiple infractions and irregularities do not substantially challenge the outcome of the election.
As in 2018, the international community will endorse the outcome of a deceitful consultation, call for reforms but will not use any of its leverage tools to push for these reforms.