EXPLAINER: Who are Lebanon’s main political parties contesting the elections?

Polls open at 7 am (0400 GMT) on Sunday and close at 7 pm (1600 GMT) and unofficial results are expected to emerge overnight. (AFP)

Lebanon holds its first parliamentary election in nine years on Sunday, with candidates vying for 128 seats that are divided among 11 religious groups according to a strict sectarian power-sharing system.

The vote for the 128-seat parliament is being held according to a complex new law that has redrawn constituencies and replaced a winner-takes-all system with a proportional one. The seats are divided according to a sectarian quota.

The polls open at 7 am (0400 GMT) on Sunday and close at 7 pm (1600 GMT) and unofficial results are expected to emerge overnight.

Here are the main players:

THE FUTURE MOVEMENT

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al Hariri waves during an election campaign in the northern town of Deniyeh. (Reuters)

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al Hariri waves during an election campaign in the northern town of Deniyeh. (Reuters)

Future is led by Saad al-Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni and prime minister since 2016. Hariri took on his political role after his father Rafik al-Hariri was assassinated in 2005.

The early years of his political career were defined by confrontation with the heavily armed Shi’ite group Hezbollah. A U.N.-backed court later charged five Hezbollah members over the Hariri killing. The group denies any role.

Hariri still opposes the Iran-backed Hezbollah but these days says its arsenal is an issue that is bigger than Lebanon and should be solved through regional dialogue. His focus is now on reviving and reforming the moribund economy.

The Western-backed Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni, is meanwhile battling to limit losses he is expected to suffer in the first parliamentary election in nine years. He is nevertheless expected to form the next government.

HEZBOLLAH

A child holds a picture of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during election rallies a few days before the general election in Baalbeck. (Reuters)

A child holds a picture of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during election rallies a few days before the general election in Baalbeck. (Reuters)

Hezbollah is among the most powerful groups in Lebanon. It was founded in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and is deemed a terrorist group by the United States. It has grown even more powerful since 2012 as a key player in the Syrian war, fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

Hezbollah entered parliament for the first time in the 1990s. It also has ministers in government.

THE FREE PATRIOTIC MOVEMENT (FPM)

A Lebanese woman holds a Free Patriotic Movement party flag as supporters take to the streets in Jdeideh, on the northern outskirts of the capital Beirut. (AFP)

A Lebanese woman holds a Free Patriotic Movement party flag as supporters take to the streets in Jdeideh, on the northern outskirts of the capital Beirut. (AFP)

The FPM was established by Maronite Christian politician Michel Aoun, a former army commander who led one of two rival governments in the final years of the 1975-90 civil war.

Aoun became president in 2016 as part of the political deal that made Hariri prime minister. The FPM is led by Aoun’s son-in-law, Gebran Bassil and is allied to Hezbollah.

THE AMAL MOVEMENT

People walk past a campaign banner showing Lebanese Parliament Speaker and candidate for parliamentary election Nabih Berri and Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut. (Reuters)

People walk past a campaign banner showing Lebanese Parliament Speaker and candidate for parliamentary election Nabih Berri and Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut. (Reuters)

The Shiite Amal Movement was a civil war adversary of Hezbollah but has been closely aligned with the group since the conflict ended. It is led by Nabih Berri, who has been speaker of parliament since 1992. Amal also has close ties to Assad.

THE PROGRESSIVE SOCIALIST PARTY (PSP)

Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt walks with his eldest son Taymur (L) at their ancestral home in Mukhtara in Lebanon's Shouf mountains, southeast of Beirut, on Januray 16, 2010. (AFP)

Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt walks with his eldest son Taymur (L) at their ancestral home in Mukhtara in Lebanon's Shouf mountains, southeast of Beirut, on Januray 16, 2010. (AFP)

The PSP is led by Walid Jumblatt, the strongest figure in the Lebanese Druze minority. Jumblatt inherited his role from his assassinated father, Kamal, and was a prominent civil war leader. Jumblatt is in the process of handing authority to his son, Taymour, who is running in his place in the election.

THE LEBANESE FORCES (LF)

A poster of Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, former Lebanon's Christian Maronite Patriarch Mar-Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir and Lebanese parliament candidate Georges Aqeis hangs on a building in the city of Zahle. (Reuters)

A poster of Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, former Lebanon's Christian Maronite Patriarch Mar-Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir and Lebanese parliament candidate Georges Aqeis hangs on a building in the city of Zahle. (Reuters)

The LF led by Maronite Christian politician Samir Geagea emerged from a powerful civil war militia by the same name.

Geagea led the LF through the final years of the war after the 1982 assassination of Bashir Gemayel, its founder. Geagea, the only Lebanese militia leader to serve jail time over civil war violence, is the most significant Christian opponent of Hezbollah.

THE KATEAB

Electoral billboard of Lebanese candidate for the upcoming parliamentary elections Sami Gemayel, the youngest son of late president-elect Bachir Gemayel, killed in 1982, and the grandson of Pierre Gemayel, who founded the Phalangist (Kataeb) Party. (AFP)

Electoral billboard of Lebanese candidate for the upcoming parliamentary elections Sami Gemayel, the youngest son of late president-elect Bachir Gemayel, killed in 1982, and the grandson of Pierre Gemayel, who founded the Phalangist (Kataeb) Party. (AFP)

The Kateab, also known as the Phalange Party, is led by Maronite Christian politician Sami Gemayel, who took over the leadership from his father, former President Amin Gemayel.

Sami Gemayel moved to the fore after the assassination of his brother, Pierre, in 2006 during a wave of killings targeting opponents of Syrian influence in Lebanon.

THE MARADA MOVEMENT

Electoral banner of Lebanese candidates Tony Franjieh (R) and his father MP Sleiman Franjieh hanging on the wall of a building in the city of Batroun, north of Beirut. (AFP)

Electoral banner of Lebanese candidates Tony Franjieh (R) and his father MP Sleiman Franjieh hanging on the wall of a building in the city of Batroun, north of Beirut. (AFP)

Marada is led by Maronite Christian politician Suleiman Franjieh, a close Hezbollah ally and a friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Hariri initially backed Franjieh for the presidency in 2016 but the deal did not gain wider backing. Instead, Hariri struck the deal that made Aoun head of state.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
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