BEIRUT: Newly elected reformist MPs in Lebanon are planning strategies following electoral breakthroughs that grant them significant influence over the parliamentary balance of power.
Thirteen reformist MPs in Lebanon who entered the legislative race on the values of the 2019 anti-establishment uprising, along with 21 independent MPs, have joined the newly elected Lebanese Parliament.
Analysts added up MPs to determine the size of parliamentary blocs, which are divided between sovereign blocs and pro-Hezbollah groupings.
The figures show that the elected deputies can be distributed in 13 blocks divided into two large opposing camps, forming the Parliament of 128 deputies.
Sovereign Deputies can be ranked according to their previous positions. A total of 68 deputies are opposed to Hezbollah. They include members of the Lebanese Forces Party, the Progressive Socialist Party, the Islamic Group and the Lebanese Phalange Party, as well as independents and reformists.
Meanwhile, the pro-Hezbollah camp includes the party itself, the Amal Movement, the Free Patriotic Movement, the Marada Movement, the Tashnaq Party and Al-Ahbash, totaling around 60 MPs.
There is a lot of speculation about how the new independent MPs will handle the coming events and how they will position themselves on the parliamentary map.
A political observer told Arab News, “We will see the true colors of every MP when topics related to core issues are discussed.”
The Observer added: “Will these MPs change their stance on Hezbollah’s illegal weapons, even though some have avoided addressing this sensitive issue in the past? Will these MPs be able to form a unified bloc that can influence decisions within Parliament, or will they remain independent, each working alone?
Suleiman Franjieh, leader of the Marada movement and presidential candidate, appealed to reformist MPs saying: “Don’t impose strict conditions on yourself so that you don’t isolate yourself, because theory is one thing and practice is another. “.
Fouad Siniora, former Lebanese Prime Minister, who backed a list in Beirut and whose candidates all failed to make it to parliament, said: “Sovereign deputies must develop a correct vision of the future on how to confront the domination and control of Hezbollah in order to restore the Lebanese state. .”
He added: “In 2008, sovereign forces won 72 seats in parliament, but Hezbollah then refused to form a majority government.”
Siniora warned of a rollback like the March 14 forces did in 2009, costing them their power.
A video shared on social media shocked voters in Tripoli and across the country. MP-elect Firas Salloum, who was on the Real Change slate with the Islamic Group, was filmed celebrating his victory by dancing to a song supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The video prompted the Islamic Group to issue a statement renouncing Salloum. He said: “He does not represent us because he seemed proud of his affiliation with the criminal tyrant, who blew up the Al-Taqwa and Al-Salam mosques in Tripoli and killed our people in Syria.
The statement demanded that Salloum resign “because he does not represent the city and does not resemble its inhabitants”.
Reformist MP Elias Jarada said: “Bringing the revolution from the streets to parliament requires adopting a policy of dialogue with everyone so that the October 17 revolution becomes a model of dynamic political action. It is important to be realistic because the parliament includes groups that represent other categories of the Lebanese people.
Several Reform MPs rushed to meet with their groups to determine their next steps in Parliament.
Reform MP-elect Ibrahim Mneimneh, whose slate won three parliamentary seats in Beirut’s second constituency, said: “Reform MPs will be the revolutionary voice in parliament. We will not compromise with the criminal regime that has destroyed our lives, and we will not compromise in the face of intimidation with weapons, nor the sale of state assets, depositors’ money, or the path of justice with the explosion in the port of Beirut and the explosion in Akkar.
News leaks have suggested that reformist MP Melhem Khalaf, a former head of the Beirut Bar Association who took part in protests against state corruption and helped free detained protesters, could possibly be elected deputy -speaker of Parliament, succeeding Elie Ferzli, who has held the position since 2000 but failed to reach Parliament in recent elections.
Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, who is seeking re-election, would make efforts to win over civil society and support Khalaf as his deputy.
Major challenges await the newly elected chamber, the first of which is the election of a president and a vice-president, followed by parliamentary consultations to appoint someone to form a new government, then the election of a new president in September or October after the end of Michel Aoun’s mandate.
There are also important legislative obligations, as part of the reforms demanded by the international community to pull Lebanon out of its worsening economic crisis.