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ELECTIONS 2022

Opposition is organizing its list in Baalbeck-Hermel

A coalition of ‘forces of change’ in Bekaa III was announced Sunday.

Opposition is organizing its list in Baalbeck-Hermel

Mouhannad Sleiman announces the opposition coalition in Baalbeck. (Photo: Sarah Abdallah)

"Against confessionalism ... Thawra!" The atmosphere in Tammouz Hall, in the middle of Baalbeck, was galvanized Sunday. After the audience recited the slogans of the October 17, 2019, protest movement, "the forces of change in Baalbeck-Hermel" announced a coalition of movements close to the thawra in the district of Bekaa III. The objective is to set up a single list in preparation for the May 15 elections.

"We were told that ‘the corrupt is like the agent,’ but now we release the agents and accept their candidacy in the elections," said coalition spokesman Mouhannad Sleiman. He was referencing a quote from Hassan Nasrallah, which represents the party’s intransigence toward Israeli collaborators and corruption. Along with the Amal Movement, Hezbollah dominates the political scene in Bekaa III but another ally, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), is reportedly preparing to run General Fayez Karam in Zgharta, in the North III constituency; Karam was convicted of collaboration with Israel.

The coalition has presented an electoral program, a list of demands that includes the usual themes of opposition movements close to the street: De-confessionalization of the state, independence of the judiciary, social security, and the fight against corruption. Themes of insecurity and unemployment were also addressed in the political program. "Our region has been neglected by the authorities for years," Assaad Ara'a, a member of the Baalbeck children's collective, told L'Orient-Le Jour.

The names of the groups and personalities wishing to participate in the coalition were not revealed at the conference.

"Our group includes parties such as the Lebanese Communist Party, Li Haqqi, the Popular Observatory against Corruption (of Wassef Haraké), as well as the collective of the children of Baalbeck and that of the revolutionaries of Brital and Ersal," said Ara'a, without detailing the names of candidates.

Shiite breakthrough?

The constituency of Bekaa III (Baalbeck-Hermel) has 10 parliamentary seats: Six Shiite, 2 Sunni, 1 Maronite and 1 Greek-Catholic. The electoral threshold there is 10 percent of the votes. In 2018, the "Hope and Loyalty" list supported by Hezbollah, Amal, and the Syrian National Social Party (SNSP) received 140,747 votes (75 percent of the vote, and eight out of 10 seats). Another list, the "Development and Dignity" list, supported by the Lebanese Forces and the Future Movement, obtained 35,607 votes (19 percent, and two seats out of 10). The "Development and Change" list, formed mainly by the Communist Party and independent figures, received only 4,053 votes (two percent, far below the electoral threshold). Hezbollah has a lock on the Shiite-majority areas of the Bekaa and the South, due to its alliance with Amal and its extensive clientelist networks.

Achieving a breakthrough in these constituencies and electing Shia MPs there would represent an important symbolic victory for the thawra groups, especially since protests in the south and the Bekaa in 2019 were suppressed by force.

Will the opposition forces be able to clear a path this time?

"It is especially in this constituency that the opposition can make a breakthrough and get a Shiite MP elected, especially since the list will include members of important tribes and political families in the region," specualted Rindala Beydoun of the Nahoua al-Watan collective, which supports the coalition. Numerous regional initiatives have sprung up in recent weeks to unify the ranks of the opposition, such as Chamalouna in North III, or Beirut Touqawem in Beirut II.


This story was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour


"Against confessionalism ... Thawra!" The atmosphere in Tammouz Hall, in the middle of Baalbeck, was galvanized Sunday. After the audience recited the slogans of the October 17, 2019, protest movement, "the forces of change in Baalbeck-Hermel" announced a coalition of movements close to the thawra in the district of Bekaa III. The objective is to set up a single list in preparation for the May...