68 (+3) vs 57

So the opposition will remain the opposition, the majority will remain the majority and the same issues that dominated the last few years of Lebanese politics will continue to dominate it. Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement remains the biggest christian party in parliament (they actually gained 3 extra seats, and now have 24), Hizbullah retains the same number of parliamentary delegates as before it declined to put forward more than its previously elected 11 candidates) so technically has neither won nor lost anything. Jumblatt has made a familiar 180 degree turnabout – literally as the results were coming in – and Israel is understandably pissed off that Hizbullah/the opposition didn’t win, thus denying them an easy excuse for bombing the shit out of the country again. Look forward to a hot political summer of infighting in Lebanon with a liberal dosis of civil unrest and violent incidents, although probably no imminent Israeli attack. But then, right until yesterday night, I – along with most analysts and all pollsters – thought that M8 was probably going to come out ahead of M14 in the elections, so what do we know

Actually, on reviewing earlier posts about the predictions, it seems the pollsters as a whole were not that far off the mark: on May 12th, I wrote about ‘(…) 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).’ At both extremes of the margins is the exact result each side obtained yesterday – if you count the 3 ‘independents’ (politicians with a local following who are not officially members of any party) on the M14-side. It would be interesting to find out, at some point in the future, exactly how much money USAid, the various Saudi muslim charities and other sponsors have spent on vote-buying, fuel vouchers and plane tickets to achieve the predicted maximum for their ‘pro-western‘ protégés… Although, as Angry Arab points out (and as the only analyst – to my knowledge – to consistently predict an M14-victory, he has just scored some major credits): ‘The theory that Hizbullah may have worked for the defeat of the opposition is gaining currency in some people’s mind. I mean, they may have watched the experience of Hamas and realized that Hamas would have been better off out of government. Now, they can sit and watch the Hariri government take the responsiblity and blame for the mess of Lebanese governance. Although MEMRI expects that Sami Gemayyel (on whom they just sent a flash bulletin) will personally disarm Hizbullah.’ Deen Sharp argues the same on his Lebanese Elections blog, quoting Carnegie’s Paul Salem, as does Abu Muqawama at the Foreign Policy blog.

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