Opposition leaders in Lebanon are preparing for parliamentary elections despite the fact that they have a low chance of winning. This comes at a time when difficulties have tempered the revolutionary zeal that swept the nation at the end of last year.

lebanon election 2022
[Beirut, Lebanon]

This election, which is slated for May 15, will be the first in which the opposition has faced a deadline since it was founded out of a historic protest movement that sought a complete reform of the democratic system.

When combined with the Covid-19 epidemic and exacerbated by the fatal explosion at the port of Beirut in 2020, Lebanon's historic financial crisis resulted in demonstrators being suffocated and a significant portion of the people being forced to leave the country.

The leaders of the protest intend to use the next parliamentary elections to inflict another blow to the political establishment, although they do not expect to achieve a substantial triumph.

Verena El Amil, a leader of the protests who is also one of the youngest candidates, sees running for the parliamentary elections as a natural "continuation" of her activism.

Following the demonstrations in 2019, the lawyer told AFP, "we were all confronted with defeat and a wave of mass departure."

"Despite this, we must continue to try, and I am running for office to demonstrate that we will not give up."

After almost doubling since the previous election, which took place in 2018, the number of candidates standing against recognised parties has more than doubled again.

According to The Policy Initiative (TPI), a research tank located in Beirut, the opposition and independent candidates account for 284 of the 718 persons who are standing for the role of president of the country. According to TPI, this is an increase of 124 over the previous year.

These candidates are dispersed among 48 distinct electoral lists across Lebanon, especially in rural areas where the present leadership has seldom been challenged in the past.

Verena El Amil was just 25 years old when she became eligible to vote in 2018. Only one independent candidate has been elected to a seat in this election.

"We're going to fight," says the group. All of her funds had been spent on her campaign, she was convinced that she had spent all she had on it during the protests. "The slogans we yelled during the demonstrations are the slogans we want to wear in our political campaign and in Parliament."

She has the same resolve as Lucien Bourjeily, an activist, writer, and filmmaker who has established himself as one of the most important players in the anti-globalization protest movement.

He is heading to the polls for the second time in a short period of time.

In his words, "people should consider of election day as an act of resistance."

We should be recording how votes will be hijacked (on May 15) and how fraud will take place in the same manner that we have filmed people being assaulted, blindsided, and murdered in the street.

In contrast to established political parties, opposition candidates not only confront a lack of financial resources, but they also face a lack of backing from regional political groups.

Independent candidates also have a tough time obtaining seats as a result of the election rules.

And opponents are unusual in their willingness to join forces, choosing instead to go it alone.

Professor Carmen Geha of the American University of Beirut expressed her displeasure with the situation by saying, "You have rival opposition lists in most districts."

"We needed optimism, and a national campaign provided it."

Many Lebanes may also opt not to vote as a result of rising gasoline costs, which make travelling a luxury that many people cannot afford anymore.

According to an Oxfam research released in April, just 54% of the more than 4,670 persons interviewed expressed a desire to vote in the next election.

According to the NGO located in the United Kingdom, this "relatively low percentage (...) may be attributable to an overwhelming feeling of disappointment and despair."

According to Oxfam, more over half of those who indicated they did not wish to vote did so because they did not believe there were any promising candidates.

However, over half of those who plan to vote stated they would support an independent candidate instead of a major party candidate.

Maher Abou Chakra, a long-time activist, has pondered running for office himself in the past. Because of disagreements with other opposition organisations, he finally decided to withdraw his candidacy.

'Lebanon's political structure has been in place for hundreds of years...and is well anchored,' he said. "You can't confront it in a disorderly and haphazard manner."
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