Lebanese lawmakers meet to elect speaker after divisive election

Photo: AFP/Joseph Eid
Photo: AFP/Joseph Eid

Today, Lebanon’s recently elected parliament will choose a speaker for a four-year mandate.

Due to the country’s National Pact, an unwritten but accepted sectarian power sharing agreement, the parliament’s speaker must be a Shia Muslim. The heavy favourite is incumbent Speaker Nabih Berry of the Amal Movement.  Though allied with Hezbollah — considered a terrorist organisation by the US — in the March 8 Alliance, MPs from the opposition March 14 Alliance have expressed support for Berry in the interest of preserving political stability.

The election proved a decent victory for March 8, which won slightly over half of Parliament’s 128 seats. For March 14, led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, the showing was less than ideal. The PM’s party dropped from 33 to 21 seats, though the allied Lebanese Forces nearly double its representation, winning 15 seats.

In the near future, do not expect the question of Hezbollah’s weapons possession to dominate Lebanese politics as much as it has in the past. Given the success of Hezbollah’s allies and the country’s economic troubles, expect Parliament’s short-term focus to remain fixed on reducing Lebanon’s state debt, one of the highest in the world.

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