After the fourth and final round of voting in Lebanon, Saad Al-Hariri’s Future Bloc has claimed victory. His party claims to have secured an absolute majority in parliament.
But what’s not so clear is how the bloc can be labelled the ‘opposition’. He is aligned with mecurial Walid Jumblatt as well as Hezbollah and right-wing Christian parties.
On the other hand, in the most improbable u-turn, warlord Michel Aoun teamed up with pro-Syrian candidates after it became clear he had no chance of winning seats on his own. But Aoun’s ally, the former minister Suleiman Franjieh – a friend of Damascus – has conceeded defeat.
The first two rounds were shoo-in’s: in Beirut Hariri won the entire city, in the second round in the South, Hezbollah/Amal won the region. But the predictability ended there. Round three was Mount Lebanon, where Aoun’s pro/anti Syrian alliance snatched seats from Hariri. There’s been a similar battle in the North in today’s final round – Aoun is the only man able to prevent Hariri winning an absolute majority. If that happens, Hariri will have to widen his coalition yet further.
Hezbollah is likely to remain the largest single party in parliament.
European observers have been monitoring the election, while American ‘observers’ (the Ambassador) tried to influence the result.