Lebanon's former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri casts his ballot at a polling station during Beirut's municipal elections.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In the first municipal elections to be held in Lebanon since 2010, the capital city of Beirut witnessed a momentous struggle between a popular grassroots movement, Beirut Madinati, and a local branch of the al-Mustaqbal party, al-Bayarta (the Beiruties).
With a low voter turnout of just 20%, the Beirutis list, backed by al-Mustaqbal chief and former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri, won the elections.
The election marked the first time since 1998 that a list supported by al-Mustaqbal has faced a serious rival in local elections. Inspired by the spirit of Hariri's father, Rafik, the Beiruties aspire to promote equality between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon's capital.
After it turned out that the popular Beirut Madinati suffered a heavy blow in the elections, social media became awash with allegations of electoral fraud, as well as outraged reactions on the final results.
According to allegations disseminated on social media, Beirut Madinati ballots were discarded from a certain ballot box, and a representative of the party’s list who came to inspect the vote was kicked out when he attempted to report the violation. In addition, many activists spread images showing security forces confiscating several ballot boxes.
Painting itself as the standard-bearer of the Lebanese outcry against corruption, the Beirut Madinati party is an electoral list led by grassroots activists who launched last summer’s "You Stink" campaign that called on the Lebanese government to provide the capital with normal sanitation services and clean up the garbage that had flooded the streets.
The slogan that starred in the list's campaign was "From the people to the people," signaling the list's will to "return Beirut to its citizens after the public interest has long been neglected in favor of private political interests."
Ironically, Hezbollah, the organization that seeks to seize Beirut and transform it into an Iranian stronghold, has made vast efforts to help Beirut Madinati defeat the Hariri-backed Beiruties. Since his father, Rafik, was assassinated by Hezbollah militiamen in February 2005, Saad Hariri has been leading an anti-Hezbollah policy that aims to prevent the group from "Shi'itizing Lebanon."
Lebanese social media activists tweeted images showing a slew of Hezbollah militiamen heading to Beirut to cast a ballot for Hariri's rival list, Beirut Madinati.
While "losing" to Hariri in Beirut, the Lebanese terror organization won the municipal elections in its eastern stronghold, Baalbek, after violently urging its citizens to vote for a list run by the organization. After using megaphones to announce to citizens that "the Imam orders you all to vote for Hezbollah," the organization's militiamen started shooting into the air to coerce those who refused to head to the ballot box.