Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the terror organisation, said: “This is a great political and moral victory for the resistance option that protects the sovereignty of the country”. Hezbollah and its allies seemed set to secure a large enough majority to block efforts within Lebanon for it to disarm, and also have a say in the county’s defence policies.
This was Lebanon’s first general election in nine years. Nasrallah said his party’s advances would give “protection” to the group and stated “mission accomplished” after weeks of campaigning.
The official count, publicised by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, showed that Mr Hariri, a Sunni politician with close ties to Saudi Arabia, has lost at least five seats in Beirut, once considered his party’s stronghold. Hezbollah and its political allies gained at least 43 seats, giving another boost to Iran’s allies in Lebanon and Syria, where Tehran’s influence has grown in recent years as it has provided backing to President Bashar Assad.
A higher turnout had been anticipated after the long electoral break, but the new ballots used Sunday seemed to puzzle some voters. Some voters also said that the sometimes strange web of local alliances that saw some parties work together in one district and compete in others had put them off.
Despite the poor turnout among an electorate that included around 800,000 people who were too young to vote in the previous general polls, the new electoral law that permits smaller parties to run helped a civil society list into parliament.
Iran hailed the election results, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi saying that his country will “support and cooperate” with any government that is elected.
The terror organisation, Hezbollah, was created in the 1980s to fight against Israel and currently fights in Syria alongside regime forces, is listed as a terror organisation by the United States.
CFI’s Parliamentary group and numerous Conservative MPs have condemned the display and called on the Government to proscribe Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation in its entirety.