Iran-backed political and militant group Hezbollah lost its parliamentary coalition majority in the Lebanese elections, officials announced on Tuesday.
Reformist political groups, including Lebanese Forces, Hezbollah's main Christian rival, won around 10% of Lebanon's seats in the first parliamentary elections since the country's economic crisis began, which were held Sunday. The end of Islamic Hezbollah's majority, which lasted for four years, has led to "the emergence of an independent political bloc that could impact the dynamics in a severely fragmented parliament," elections and governance expert Maroun Sfeir told CNN.
"These changes are signaling the beginning of a new political phase," Sfeir said. "One that could either put back Lebanon on the right path of reform or further escalate its collapse due to political deadlocks and potential violence."
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The Lebanese Forces now have 19 seats in Lebanon's Parliament, a plurality, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Only about 41% of voters in Lebanon voted in the election. Polling monitors for the election were also threatened by members of Hezbollah and its ally the Amal Movement at several polling locations, with supporters of Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces clashing on Sunday, according to the outlet.
Lebanon's economic collapse, considered to be one of the world's worst since the mid-19th century, was attributed by the United Nations and the World Bank to the country's ruling elite, with most of the population in poverty and inflation rising to over 200% since October 2019. Hezbollah has denied responsibility for the collapse, pointing to allegations of corruption among its political rivals.
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Sunday's election was hit with allegations of voter fraud, with 3,600 violations documented, according to the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections.
Hezbollah, designated as a terrorist group by several Western nations, was founded in the 1980s in Lebanon and has been tied to a spate of terrorist attacks against the United States, including the 1983 Marine barracks bombing that killed 241 U.S. service members in Beirut. The group also took responsibility for firing rockets near the Israeli border in August 2021.