Sunday, September 25

the challenges of the new Parliament of Lebanon

It hadn’t happened in weeks, but again, the queues at gas stations coexist with the now expired electoral posters in the Lebanon. A new Parliament will be sworn in this Sunday with new faces and significant changes in political dynamics. But not far from Place de l’Etoile, where its institutional buildings are concentrated, three-quarters of Lebanon’s population remain under the poverty line. At the end of the celebrations, the pound it plummeted 11% to reach 31,000 units at the dollar exchange rate.

For a few days, the agitation over last Sunday’s elections managed to hide the problems that have been suffocating Lebanese society for almost three years. But when the results arrived and with all the reactions made public, it shone again one of the worst economic crises in the world since the 19th century. The fuel price it rose, again, to 532,000 pounds for about 20 liters in a country where the minimum wage remains at 675,000. Before, it was about 450 dollars. Now, they barely add up to 22. rumors about the shortage they have again triggered queues at service stations, to which the Lebanese already got used to last summer.

electricity blackout

Rumors have also begun to spread about a total blackout of electricity in the country. The company in charge of the electrical service, Electricity du Libanhas issued a partial denial, alleging that only one of the two power plants in operation has stopped producing for lack of fuel. In turn, this shortage has also affected food with a rise in bread price after Ali Ibrahim, the president of the Bakers’ Union, announced the day after the elections that there were hardly any left “three days of flour stocks“.

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Therefore, this new Parliament faces a bleak economic and social panorama. In addition, the still to be released composition of the hemicycle augurs political paralysis Y misrule. No bloc has a parliamentary majority. Hezbollah and its allies have just lost it due to the lack of support for their partners. On the other hand, supporters of the party with the most seats, the Lebanese Forces (FL), clashed in the streets with the namesakes of the Shia militia a few months ago, staging the deep enmity between the two factions.

Delay in reforms

Without a clear majority in Parliament, looming tense times between these historical rivals with powerful benefactors -Hizbullah is Iran’s protégé and the LF receives the support of Saudi Arabia and the United States-. Probably in the coming months they will be forced to negotiate side by side who will be the prime minister. Last time politicians took 13 months of negotiations to form the current government of Najib Mikati. The resignation of the previous Executive came at a critical moment, just a few days after the explosion in the port of Beirut in August 2020.

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In addition, the absence of a government will prevent the implementation of the reforms required by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to disburse its bailout plan for Lebanon. The political class has been in negotiations for months but its refusal to reform the system prevents them from moving forward. Ultimately, it is not just the economic meltdown that overshadows any fantasy of change in Lebanon. Although the entry of 13 parliamentarians hardened in the squares during the October 2019 uprising is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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With very little room for maneuver, represent the first cracks in the robust sectarian system that governs politics, economy, society and life in Lebanon. The country watches expectantly at this group of legislators who delve into the entrails of some rotten institutions of corruption. Many trust that they will not forget that it was the streets who they raised them so that from their seats, they continue with the revolution that together they starred in that exciting autumn of 2019.

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