Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group and its allies have lost the parliament majority they had held since 2018, according to final results from the Lebanese elections.
Hezbollah's most vocal opponents and more than a dozen independents have made gains, the results released on Tuesday show.
The Hezbollah-led coalition won 61 seats in the 128-member legislature, a drop of 10 members since the last vote was held four years ago. The loss was largely due to setbacks suffered by Hezbollah's Christian partners, the Free Patriotic Movement founded by President Michel Aoun, and several of Hezbollah's traditional allies who lost seats.
The biggest winner turned out to be the nationalist Christian Lebanese Forces party led by Samir Geagea, one of the harshest critics of Hezbollah and its Iranian backers. Another big winner is Druze leader Walid Joumblatt whose group won all eight seats they were running for.
The Lebanese Forces now has the largest bloc in parliament with 19 seats, overtaking Hezbollah's main Christian allies of the Free Patriotic Movement. The movement now holds 17 seats, a drop of three seats from the previous vote.
Despite the setback, Hezbollah and its main Shi'Ite ally, the Amal group of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, retained the 27 seats allocated to the Shi'Ite sect.
Independents and newcomers, including those from the 2019 protest movement, scooped 14 seats. That was a major achievement considering they went into the vote fragmented and facing intimidation and threats by entrenched mainstream parties.
Their showing sends a strong message to ruling class politicians who have for decades held on to their seats and despite an economic meltdown that has impoverished the country and triggered the biggest wave of emigration since the 1975-90 civil war.
The results also portend a sharply polarised parliament, divided between pro and anti-Hezbollah lawmakers who will find it difficult to work together to form a new government and pass laws needed to to enact reforms for a financial recovery in Lebanon.
With two main blocs -- Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces -- opposed to each other, analysts said the results could lead to more paralysis at a time when the country desperately needs unity.
The biggest loss came to Hezbollah's allies with close links to Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, including deputy parliament speaker Elie Ferzli, Druze politician Talal Arslan who had held a seat for three decades, Asaad Hardan and Faisal Karami, son of late premier Omar Karami.
Sunday's parliamentary elections were the first since Lebanon's economic meltdown began in late 2019. The government's factions have done virtually nothing to address the collapse, leaving Lebanese to fend for themselves as they plunge into poverty, without electricity, medicine, garbage collection or any other semblance of normal life.
The vote is also the first since a deadly explosion at Beirut's port in August 2020 that killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and damaged parts of the capital.
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.