Lebanon appears set for political instability after the results of its parliamentary elections showed no front had secured a clear majority. The election came in the wake of economic turmoil and a massive blast in Beirut port in August 2020 that left over 200 dead and caused property damage amounting to over $15 billion.
The alliance headed by militant group Hezbollah emerged as the single-largest formation, but did not get an outright majority as it won 61 of the 128 seats. The Hezbollah alliance lost 10 seats, compared with its tally in 2018. In Lebanon's system of proportional communal representation, Parliament has 64 seats for Muslims and 64 for Christians.
While all 13 Hezbollah candidates won, its allies saw losses. This included the Free Patriotic Movement of President Michel Aoun losing three seats from the last election to end at 18 seats.
The opposition Lebanese Forces, a Christian group, has emerged as the biggest Christian party and also the largest bloc in parliament, winning 21 seats. The Lebanese Forces is headed by Samir Geagea, a former warlord from the civil war era. The Lebanese Forces has been a bitter opponent of Hezbollah and receives support from Saudi Arabia.
The Lebanese Forces was established in 1976 after the civil war started. It was created by Bashir Gemayel, a Maronite Christian, as an amalgamation of various Christian militias. The Lebanese Forces was backed by Israel and the US in the 1980s and fought the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Hezbollah. Lebanese Forces was opposed to Palestinian and Syrian influence in Lebanon during the Civil War.
Bashir was elected president of Lebanon in 1982 but was assassinated by a bomb attack at his Beirut headquarters before he could take office. Then US president Ronald Reagan had condemned his assassination and described Bashir Gemayel as a “promising young leader [who] had brought the light of hope to Lebanon”.
In response to his killing, Christian militia members massacred hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps.
Samir Geagea took control of the Lebanese Forces in 1986. While the outfit was weakened by the time the civil war ended in the 1990, it remained opposed to Syrian influence in the country. It was briefly banned in 1994 and its assets seized. The Lebanese Forces returned to public prominence in 2005 after the Syrian Army withdrew following popular protests.
Like other parties critical of Hezbollah, Lebanese Forces believes the militant group's weapons undermine the country's sovereignty.