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    A Lebanese woman casts a ballot at a polling station during the Lebanon's parliamentary elections in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, May 6, 2018

    Lebanon Elections: Hezbollah Poised to Expand Clout in Parliament

    © AP Photo / Hassan Ammar
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    For the first time since 2009, Lebanese citizens are casting ballots in the May 6 parliamentary elections after lawmakers extended their term twice, citing political instability in the country.

    Who is Taking Part?

    More than 500 candidates are participating in Sunday's parliamentary elections in Lebanon, where voters will decide on the future of all 128 seats in the country's legislature.

    There is a record number of women and non-party candidates running in the elections, even though the lion's share of seats is expected to be gained by representatives of the six main political parties.

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    These include the Future Movement of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who currently heads the largest block in parliament, and the Free Patriotic Movement, founded by President Michel Aoun, which has the second largest bloc.

    Other groups include the Shiite organizations Hezbollah and Amal, as well as the Progressive Socialist Party and the right-wing Christian party Lebanese Force.

    Hezbollah's Push for Election Win

    The paramilitary and political Shiite movement Hezbollah, with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah at the helm, is expected to expand its clout in the parliament; the party hopes to win at least 43 votes.

    A woman supporter of Hezbollah casts her vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Tibnin, South Lebanon, May 6, 2018
    © REUTERS / Aziz Taher
    A woman supporter of Hezbollah casts her vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Tibnin, South Lebanon, May 6, 2018

    Calling for heavy voter turnout, Nasrallah said that "you should protect with your votes your victories and achievements, for which you've paid a very high price," an apparent nod to Hezbollah supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad's fight against jihadists in Syria.

    New Election Law

    June 2017 saw the adoption of an array of amendments to the election law in Lebanon.

    Under the amendments, the parties have agreed among themselves to not restrict the number of eligible candidates, with candidates corresponding to set demographic areas.

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    When picking a candidate to represent his or her region, a voter casts a ballot for a list of candidates that include the voter's choice. When the votes are counted, parliamentary seats are distributed among the lists on a percentage basis — the more votes the list collects, the more candidates will be elected to parliament.

    At the same time, certain ethnic and religious groups are ensured political representation, as has been the case in the past.

    First Parliamentary Elections Since 2009

    About 3.6 million registered voters are expected to vote in Sunday's parliamentary elections for the first time since 2009, after the current parliament extended its term twice, citing political instability in the country.

    Security is tight across Lebanon, as Interior Ministry forces remain on heightened alert at polling booths to maintain order.

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    voters, political parties, parliamentary elections, parliament, Hezbollah, Lebanon
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