Why are the Lebanese people voting?
Al Mayadeen English asks the Lebanese people what the incentives behind their vote are as they head to the polls on Sunday.
Lebanese voting on Sunday, in the country's first parliamentary election since Lebanon's economic collapse, had various opinions and hopes regarding the political situation and the future of Lebanon.
This comes days after former US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said he did not think the status quo in Lebanon would shift due to the election, i.e., the situation would not change in the interest of the United States.
A key aspect of Schenker's talking point was his claim of "growing discontent with Hezbollah amongst the Shia constituent", adding that the US could have done more to "exploit" that discontent.
The senior diplomat cited the Bush administration's siding with the Lebanese March 14 coalition in 2005 as an exception. The US had sided with the coalition in a bid to undermine the March 8 coalition comprised of Hezbollah and its allies, according to Schenker.
Olga Ghandour, 46, tersely stated that she is voting against the American policy in Lebanon.
Other voters expressed their rage, blaming the Lebanese politicians for economic mismanagement and corruption, and hoped for change.
Since the state held its last election, Lebanon has been hit by a pandemic, a blast labeled one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, a political crisis, a diplomatic crisis, and widespread protests, all of which have exacerbated the economic situation and caused surging inflation in the country.
The national currency has lost more than 95% of its value, people are blocked from accessing their savings in banks, and the minimum wage cannot cover basic necessities throughout the month, putting more than 80% of the population under the poverty line.
Due to the hardship, the Lebanese people are suffering and the country landed at the very bottom of the 2022 World Happiness Index released in March. The country only came second-to-last to Afghanistan, a nation that has just ended a US occupation that lasted 20-years and brought it to the brink of collapse.
Amal Anadoly from Beirut told Al Mayadeen English that she is exercising her right to vote, adding that she is seeking change that protects the rights of the Lebanese people.
“I hope things will get better,” she concluded.
Another voter stressed that all radical solutions might not be solved in the period of only four years, whether a radical fight against administrative corruption, the end of the economic crisis completely, or the legislation and implementation of all the new laws necessary to change the previous economic pack. Yet, she hoped that some reform and development projects will be achieved in the upcoming period.
Myriam from Keserwan, Jbeil Governorate, said that she is voting because “we should never lose hope in change, and it is our duty as it is our right to believe in a new Lebanon that can forget the past and defeat all corruption for a hopeful future for our kids”.
Meanwhile, a large number of voters affirmed their support for the Lebanese resistance in the face of the Israeli enemy.
The memory of Israeli wars and aggressions against Lebanon became ingrained in the sub-conscience of the Lebanese people as it caused the death of thousands and the destruction of the country's infrastructure countless times. The stance regarding "Israel" consequently became one of the main questions that Lebanese voters ask themselves before voting.
The implications of such a stance touch directly on the lives and security of many in Lebanon. With "Israel" and the US trying to achieve normalization through marketing joint projects of oil and gas with Lebanon, energy security became a relevant topic as well.
26 years ago, the Israeli occupation deliberately targeted a well-known #UN compound in Qana, #Lebanon, with more than 800 Lebanese civilians taking refuge in it. The result was a horrific massacre taking the lives of 106 people, half of whom were children.#مجزرة_قانا pic.twitter.com/AmDDvOc9ar— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) April 18, 2022
Haydar Hamze from the south of Lebanon, a 21-year-old who is voting for the first time, believes that the threat of “Israel” makes voting an even more sacred duty.
“I believe that my vote will protect Lebanon from the Israeli enemy," he tersely said.
80-year-old woman summed up her reasons in one sentence: “I am voting for the path of resistance”.
On his account, Alaa Kassem from West Bekaa said that he is voting to protect the country from the Israeli enemy and to preserve Lebanon’s resources, particularly oil and gas.
Hanady from Akkar, Tripoli, told Al Mayadeen English that she is voting in loyalty to the martyrs and wounded who risked their lives and blood for the Lebanese people.
Despite the difficulties, Sunday's vote is a testament to Lebanon's vibrant democratic process.