BEIRUT — The European Union’s Election Observation Mission to Lebanon in May 2022 said in their final report announced in a press conference on Monday that “the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces, and independent candidates were all very active during the campaign and triggered the highest interactions both on Facebook and Twitter."
Here’s what we know:
• According to the report, some parties, including Kataeb and Marada, were very active but triggered fewer interactions, adding that the main topics of the campaign online were corruption, economy, regional politics, and the lack of infrastructure.
• The report also said “the Facebook spending of the pages of the Lebanese Forces, Kataeb, and the list “Beirut needs a heart” (Fouad Makhzoumi) amounted to a third of the total spending of the 128 new emerging forces compared to other forces, while the March 8 alliance only rarely resorted to paid-for content on Facebook.”
• The report indicated that the wealthiest candidates were buying up paid-for “election packages” proposed at a high cost by the three major commercial television channels, Al Jadeed, LBCI and MTV. These packages included access to news programs, debates and interviews, as well as live coverage of campaign events such as the presentation of the lists of candidates. “While most candidates could not afford it, they switched instead, for free access or lesser rates, to the partisan media, like television broadcasters Al Manar (Hezbollah), NBN (Amal Movement) and OTV (FPM), according to their own political affiliations and alliances,” the report also said.
• The report continued to say that independent candidates also turned to the alternative media platforms, like Thawra TV and Megaphone, and to the local media, mainly radio stations and news websites, whose rates for political content were less costly.
• The report includes 23 recommendations to improve the future electoral processes in the country, among which is giving the Supervisory Committee for Elections the mandate and capacity to check and audit all personal accounts of the elections candidates and their children and spouse, by lifting the bank secrecy on these accounts and creating a dedicated unit within the SCE for this purpose.