As Lebanon suffers from an historic economic crisis propelled by the venality of its political establishment, the May 15 elections have injected a glimmer of hope amid gloomy prospects for the future. Thirteen independent candidates — part of what is dubbed the “change opposition” — won seats in the 128-member Parliament. “The election of these 13 MPs [members of Parliament] is a very important, gradual first step toward more peaceful political change and reform in Lebanon,” said Mona Yacoubian, a Lebanon expert and senior advisor for the U.S. Institute of Peace. But the road ahead is fraught with internal challenges and external forces that could impede Lebanon’s much-needed reform.
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.
On May 15, Lebanon held its first election since mass protests swept the country in October 2019. Trigged by economic crisis and profound frustration with an inept, detached ruling establishment, the protest movement sparked hope that real change to the country’s anachronistic, corrupt political system was in the offing. Fast forward nearly three years, and such promise seems to have been extinguished by the calamitous August 2020 Beirut port explosion, traditional party supporters’ efforts to stifle new opposition movements, and an historic economic collapse.