Lebanon goes to polls to elect new parliament after nine years

Lebanon Holds General Election for First Time in Nine Years

Lebanon Holds General Election for First Time in Nine Years

Lebanese Prime Minister and candidate for the parliamentary election Saad al-Hariri casts his vote at a polling station in Beirut, Lebanon, May 6, 2018. Drivers relentlessly honked their horns to draw attention to their allegiance. When the votes are counted, parliamentary seats are distributed among the lists on a percentage basis - the more votes the list collects, the more candidates will be elected to parliament. He added that he is committed to the principle of electoral silence.Hariri however responded to questions from reporters after leaving the polling station."I performed my electoral duty and cast my vote like any Lebanese".

The capital is split into two voting districts, Beirut 1 and Beirut 2.

"In the last quarter of the hour, we have to raise the voter turnout to the maximum, like the lovely partridges of our mountains", Druze chief Walid Jumblatt tweeted.

As she spoke, half a dozen supporters of Hariri's Future Movement rushed to the school gate, waving ID cards and asking the soldier positioned there when they could be let in.

In Beirut, a cauldron of religions and powerful political dynasties, it was clear which particular sect dominated which area by the number of banners representing the political parties.

Voting for all 128 seats continues until 19:00 local time (16:00 GMT).

Calling for heavy voter turnout, Nasrallah said that "you should protect with your votes your victories and achievements, for which you've paid a very high price", an apparent nod to Hezbollah supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad's fight against jihadists in Syria. "The political parties are taking advantage of the poor and their financial situations and giving them money just to go down to the voting stations and vote for their lists".

Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. "I'm not going to tell you which political party paid our expenses, but I can tell you for certain that it isn't the only party that has done such a thing".

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While many polling stations faced similar issues of long queues, others appeared to be coping easily with the voters.

"It's the first time for me, and we're excited".

The counting of the ballots will begin at the close of polls with official results of the election being expected on Monday.

That, along with the new electoral law, has injected some unpredictability to the process.

The vote was held under a new proportional system that has confused some voters and made the contest more unpredictable.

Despite the popular prediction that this year's election is unlikely to fundamentally change the political division as most of the old guards are expected to retain power, many voters are still upbeat about it and the country's future.

Under this arrangement, the majority system has been replaced and the threshold needed to win an election lowered - a plan that should benefit independents and reformers, easing the grip on the power of the country's main clans. Voters will choose one list of allied candidates, as well as a preferred candidate from among them.