By Ayda Erbal
BEIRUT — A first in nine years and deferred for 5 years for security reasons, Lebanese elections were held on May 6 and brought victory to Hezbollah party and its allies.
This was an election with many changes, challenges and novelties including the new electoral law which introduced for the first time, elements of proportional representation.
First proposed by then Interior Minister of the Najib Mikati’s government Marwan Charbel in 2011, the new law was ratified in June 2017 and will also allow Lebanese expats to vote for the first time in the country’s history. Even though there are up to a few million Lebanese citizens abroad, state-run news agency set the number of registered voters close to 83,000 with expat Lebanese registrants in Arab countries numbering approximately 12,600. They voted on April 27 and 29 — a week before their compatriots in the homeland.
Even though the Lebanese-Armenians form approximately 4 percent of the larger Lebanese population, Apostolic and Catholic combined, they make up 34 percent of the East Beirut electorate, which made them key in securing the seats in that district.
In light of the importance of the Armenian vote in one of the important districts in these elections, we had a conversation with Prof. Ara Sanjian of University of Michigan Dearborn, an Armenian-American scholar from Lebanon on the recent changes of the electoral law. Sanjian is working on a manuscript on Armenian political parties and electoral politics in Lebanon.