Polling booths opened in Lebanon on Sunday for the country’s first parliamentary election in nine years, a period marked by stretches of political paralysis and war in neighbouring Syria.
Voting is scheduled to last from 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) until 7 p.m. (1600 GMT), with unofficial results expected to start coming in overnight and a formal tally announced in the coming days.
Whatever the result, a new coalition government including most of the major parties is likely to be formed after the election, analysts have said.
Getting a new government in place quickly would reassure investors of Lebanon’s economic stability after donors pledged $11 billion in soft loans for a capital investment programme last month, in return for fiscal and other reforms.
Lebanese are closely watching the performance of Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s Future Movement party and that of the Iran-backed, Shi’ite Hezbollah group and its allies. Despite some acts of violence and intimidation connected to the election in recent weeks, no major incidents were reported in the immediate run-up to voting.