Political observers view the election as highly competitive and unpredictable. Earlier this year, three-time prime minister Saad Hariri — the leader of the country’s largest Sunni Muslim parliamentary bloc — quit politics, leaving the Sunni vote up for grabs.
Iran-backed armed political group Hezbollah has also emerged as a hot topic in Lebanon’s election. Several political groups have vowed to try to disarm the Shia party — which they believe has dominated the political sphere — though it still enjoys broad support among its constituents.
Hezbollah’s election rallies — where the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah urged people to vote in droves — drew thousands of supporters this week.
A Hezbollah-backed coalition — which includes other Shia as well as Christian allies — has the majority of seats in the current parliament.
The tiny eastern Mediterranean country has had a confessional power-sharing system since its founding a century ago. The parliament is divided evenly between Muslims and Christians, with the premiership reserved for a Sunni Muslim, the presidency for a Maronite Christian and its speaker of parliament for a Shia Muslim.
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