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January 18, 2021 | 40 Pages | English | Georgia Dagher
The 2018 Lebanese Parliamentary Elections: What Do the Numbers Say? Bekaa 1 Electoral District: Zahle

In the Lebanese parliamentary elections of 2018, the district of Zahle saw a highly competitive race, with candidates from three electoral lists making it to parliament. Each party had its own constituents, with Hezbollah owing its support to the Shia community, the Future Movement to the Sunni community, and the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces to Christian communities. Participation rates in the district were higher than the national average, and varied across confessional groups and gender: Shia voters were the most mobilized, while Armenian voters were the least mobilized, and women were significantly more likely to vote than men. There were large disparities in turnouts across geographical areas among voters from the same sectarian groups, and generally, voters in more homogeneous areas were significantly more likely to vote compared to those in more confessionally fragmented areas. Areas with lower levels of economic development tended to see significantly higher turnout rates, as well. These same factors also affected voters’ preferences for candidates from their same confession. The majority of voters in Zahle cast their preferential vote for a co-sectarian candidate, and while there were variations across confessional groups, voters in areas with higher levels of sectarian homogeneity and those in areas with lower levels of economic development were significantly more likely to cast a sectarian vote. Even those who voted for the independent list Kulluna Watani exhibited a sectarian bias, with each of the candidates performing better among their sectarian community. Apart from this, Kulluna Watani’s results were negatively affected by high turnouts and high levels of sectarian homogeneity, showing that the list’s limited success was partly determined by sectarian parties’ capacity to mobilize voters.

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