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February 25, 2019 | English and Arabic | Jana Mourad and Daniel Garrote Sanchez
Voter Turnout and Vote Buying in the 2018 Parliamentary Elections

On 6 May 2018, Lebanon’s parliamentary elections were held according to a new electoral law which encompasses elements of proportional representation. The law was ostensibly passed to improve national representation in the parliament and provide new political actors and civil society groups with an opportunity to compete against established political parties. Despite high hopes for greater voter mobilization and more competitive races, only 49.7% of eligible voters cast their ballots and established parties retained control of the national legislature.
This policy brief examines voter turnout and voter behavior using a countrywide opinion survey of 1,200 respondents conducted in the fall of 2018. The results of the survey show that voting decisions are affected by voters’ age, occupational status, and political affiliation. More importantly, results show a high degree of voter loyalty, with about 90% of voters casting ballots for the same party in both 2009 and 2018. The survey also highlights the practice of vote buying, with 40% of voters reporting incidents of vote buying in their neighborhoods and 20% acknowledging personal receipt of handouts. The results show that constituents who are most affected by vote buying have a low socioeconomic status, few political connections, and a strong sectarian identity.
This brief's findings highlight the importance of combating youth voter apathy through awareness campaigns that steer them toward engaging in the electoral process. Moreover, this brief focuses on challenges presented by vote buying and recommends enhancing the anonymity of the voting process as well as the drafting and application of laws that penalize parties and candidates who resort to illegal activities to mobilize voters.

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