About a month to go to the Lebanese elections, and the ISF keeps uncovering more Israeli spies on a daily basis, while Beirut and presumably half the country is locked in gigantic traffic jams – all those potholes, cracked road surfaces and eternally halted construction works which didn’t bother the authorities for years seem to be in sudden need of repair right before the elections. A clear parallel with the Belgian way of electioneering – incidentally elections in both my old and new home country are held on the same day, June 7th.
Qifa Nabki – whose blog is an excellent way to follow the elections, reports on an article in al-Akhbar which aggregates four predictions by pollsters for the upcoming parliamentary elections. The upshot seems to be that the current majority of M14 could get anywhere between 48 and 71 seats, while the current opposition of M8 is looking at between 57 and 80 seats, with the ‘guaranteed’ seats for each – i.e. districts with no competition at all – being respectively 36 (M14) and 37 (M8).
Meanwhile, Israel has announced large-scale military exercises just south of the Lebanese border for May 31st, which Hizbullah spokespeople insist are a cover for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and possibly another assault on Lebanon. Or they could be meant as intimidation before the elections, in a desparate last bid to dissuade the Lebanese people from electing the opposition forces into power… How the US and its lackeys will react to an opposition win is another interestig question, especially in the light of their reaction to Hamas’ election in Palestine. The UK and other European countries have recently been seen ‘overtly’ talking with Hizbullah for the first time in living memory, so in any case everybody has seen the weather changing around here. Hizbullah for its part has waged a very low-key election campaign and leaves it to Aoun and the FPM to increase the seats of the opposition, not putting forward more candidates themselves than the seats they already have.
The price for most creative and interesting campaigning, by the way, definitely goes to the Aouni marketing team (see the ++961 blog for regular updates with pictures of the posters and occasional translations of the slogans) while Hariri’s Future Movement is probably responsible for the most empty and boring visual pollution of them all (although competition is stiff among both ‘opposition’ and the ‘majority’ contenders).
PS – slight update: after writing this I went to the balcony and saw a new Future poster, and for once it didn’t say something like ‘the economy first’ or ‘independence first’ or any of the other mutually contradictory ‘firsts’. It read: ‘ma byirja3u w-as-sama zarqa’ – ‘they (i.e. the Syrians/opposition) are not coming back – the sky is blue (i.e. the colour of the Future Movement in these colour-coded elections). Some sign of creativity and actual content at last…
PS2 – Oh, I forgot to mention episode 743 of the long-running popular soap series ‘Israel is going to end its occupation of southern Ghajjar (really!)’