Lebanon's Hizbullah and its allies lost their parliamentary majority, official results showed Tuesday, while independents achieved a surprise breakthrough.
Full results announced by the interior ministry two days after the election revealed that no bloc will control the 128-seat assembly, a deadlock observers fear could usher in a tense period of political jostling.
The polls, the first since Lebanon was ravaged by its worst ever economic crisis and a cataclysmic explosion at Beirut port in 2020, were seen as a prerequisite for a crucial IMF bailout.
The Hizbollah-led coalition won 61 seats in the 128-member legislature, a drop of 10 members since the last vote was held four years ago. They fell short of the 65 needed to retain a majority following Sunday's polls. The loss was largely due to setbacks suffered by the group’s political partners, and was not expected to weaken the group’s domination of Lebanese politics. All 13 Hizbullah candidates who ran got elected.
Their strongest opponents in parliament will be led by the Christian Lebanese Forces party of former warlord Samir Geagea, that raked in several new seats on the back of a virulent anti-Hizbullah campaign.
New reformist faces who entered the legislative race on the values of a 2019 anti-establishment uprising made a stronger showing that many had predicted.
17 candidates who backed the 2019 protest movement won seats. At least twelve of them will sit in parliament for the first time.
Together with independents and other non-aligned MPs who have sometimes supported the now-defunct protest movement's demands, they could find themselves in a kingmaking position.
They could obtain the support of MP Osama Saad, who supported the protests, and new MP Abdul Rahman al-Bizri.
That was a major achievement considering they went into the vote fragmented and facing intimidation and threats by entrenched mainstream parties. Their showing sends a strong message to ruling class politicians who have held on to their seats despite an economic meltdown that has impoverished the country and triggered the biggest wave of emigration since the 1975-90 civil war.
One of the most notable victories notched up by independents was the election in the third South district of Elias Jradeh and Firas Hamdan for seats that Hizbullah and its allies had not lost in three decades.
Another major satisfaction for those described in Lebanon as the "thawra" (revolution, in Arabic) candidates, was the defeat of several reviled MPs loyal to the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.