News ID: 321379
Published: 0255 GMT May 06, 2022

Lebanese abroad cast votes in parliamentary elections

Lebanese abroad cast votes in parliamentary elections
An expatriate casts his vote in Lebanon's parliamentary elections at the Lebanese school in Doha, Qatar, on May 6, 2022.

Lebanese expatriates cast their votes on Friday for parliamentary elections, state media said, two years into an unprecedented economic crisis that spurred a mass exodus.

While opposition figures have pinned their hopes on the diaspora, experts said the elections were expected to uphold the status quo, despite years of economic meltdown, AFP reported.

It is the second time in the country's history that citizens residing abroad are able to vote for their 128 representatives, in elections set to be held at home on May 15.

Expatriates began voting at 7:00 am (0500 GMT) Beirut time on Friday in nine Arab countries and in Iran, while the rest will vote in 48 other countries on Sunday.

Upcoming elections are the first since protesters massively took to the streets in 2019 against the country's entrenched ruling elite, widely blamed for the economy's collapse.

Foreign Affairs Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said Thursday that Lebanese based abroad can vote in more than 205 polling stations.

More than 225,000 people registered to vote abroad, a jump from roughly 92,000 in 2018 elections – though only 50,000 of them voted at the time.

But voter registration, while on the rise, is relatively low among the millions of Lebanese who live abroad, and their descendants.

The economic crisis forced middle-class Lebanese, including families, fresh graduates, doctors and nurses to migrate in search of a better future.

While opposition groups hope the diaspora will vote for change, only six percent of overseas voters picked independents in 2018 – according to a recent report by the Paris-based Arab Reform Initiative.

Traditional party candidates have sent messages to many expatriates in recent weeks urging them to vote for them.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for voters registered abroad "not to be complacent and to vote in large numbers".



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