Lebanon's elections are marked by vote buying and political intimidation
Clement Gibon for Al Arabiya
As the Lebanese population went to the polls on May 15, several observers noted a significant number of violations of the electoral law, potentially affecting the accuracy and respect of the legislative elections.
With the economic crisis that has gripped the country for over two years, a large part of the population has become impoverished and more dependent on traditional political parties. In one of its latest press releases, the World Bank accused the country’s political elite of deliberately orchestrating the economic depression by taking over the state and living off its economic rents.
People involved in the elections distinguish between the Lebanese electoral law that does not allow equal opportunities for all candidates and the international standards of free and fair elections. In several cases, some traditional political parties disregard the election law by breaking the secrecy of the vote.
In addition to increased clientelism and a vigorous crackdown on electoral law, hate speech campaigns and misinformation also marked the electoral process. Ayman Mhanna, director of the freedom of democracy organization Samir Kassir Foundation, tracked the use of electoral armies by traditional parties such as Hezbollah, the Lebanese Forces, and the Free Patriotic Movement to influence the elections in their favor.
Despite all the severe violations of the election law (estimated by LADE to be as many as 3,600), there were signs of change. For example, Mhanna noted a broader representation of candidates appearing on national television stations, including LBCI, MTV, and Al Jadeed. Most TV appearances were paid for, which favored better-funded candidates.