Still no official results!

It’s been three days, and no official results has been made available. the Minister of Interior announced on TV the list of the winning candidates, without Akkar, where apparently recounts were being done. The results were read live, and no detailed results were supplied.
Officially that was it.
Meanwhile, unofficial numbers are floating around, such as these results of Beirut-2, and a semi-official list of winning candidates and their preferential votes was circulated on whatsapp.
We are still missing number of voters, invalid and white ballots, lists votes, losing candidates results… Unfortunately, the Interior Ministry official website is still empty and the wait goes on!

Prileminiary analysis!

The official results and detailed numbers are still not out, casting a lengthening shadow on the electoral process.
Nevertheless, there are a few conclusion that can already be made:
1- the monolithic iron control of the Shiite duo (Amal and Hezbollah) over their constituency and regions, is intact, almost absolute, and crushing. They won a full slate in two southern regions, in a PROPORTIONAL law, with the precense of a small but significant minority in one of these regions.
2- the Lebanese Forces have significantly benefitted from the law, as their support is strong but scattered over many regions. Their numbers of MPs jumped by over 100%
3- The Aounist were able to limit their losses and maintain a large (possibly the largest) parliamentary block
4- Future Movement faced a daunting fight and had two challenges to overcome (check this for a more detailed analysis): a- energize their base and encourage the reluctant to come back into the fold. b- to significantly raise the turnout in all their regions, to increase the threshold and consolidate their support, while limiting the small lists ability to win seats. FM was successful in energizing its base but failed at raising the turnout. The result? FM parliamentary block has shrunk.
5- consequently, following the previous points, we now have a large block (that should reach 40+) formed by Hezbollah and Amal, including around 10 Sunni MPs, in addition to all the Shiite MPs except one.
Once the final results and detailed numbers are out, I will write a series of analytical articles.

E-Day indicators!

During E-day and the early hours of counting, there are a few indicators that could help us discern the election trends before the full counting is done.
First and foremost are the participation numbers! Indeed these numbers are critical, especially for major parties, like FM, FPM, LF and Hezbollah and Amal.
For example, in 2009 in Beirut III district only 38% voted. In this election, FM needs to raise this into the mid-forties to ensure that most of the small lists will not reach the threshold, thus raising the number of seats FM will win. Similarly, in Tripoli and Akkar, the more people vote the better it is for FM. In Saida, it is even more important. In 2009, 68% voted, and for FM to get a shot at another seat they need to raise participation into the sixties.
In the same trend, Hezbollah and Amal need to raise the participation numbers in the two south districts and Baalebeck-Hermel to limit FM and the independent ability to gain seats. The more their constituencies vote, the higher the threshold, and the harder it is for independent to breakthrough.
An important caveat here: If the first time voters’ participation increases, this could have an opposite effect. Indeed, these voters could shore up the numbers of civil society’s lists and their chances of winning seats.
Another important indicator is the number of invalid votes casts. In 2009, the percentage was very low, around 0.61%. This year the number of invalid vote is going to significantly increase. This will have a significant effect. Therefore, after the polls are closed, it will be important to keep an eye on that number.
Find below the list of participation per district (based on several sources, such as the interior ministry and the NDI 2009 report on the Lebanese election) :Districts voting percentages-page-001
 
 

Sunday Fun Facts!

  • The oldest candidate for the upcoming elections is 90, Mr. Mikhail Daher, and there are 12 candidates in total who are 80 years old and above. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s median age is of 30 years, and 40% of them are under 24 years old.
  • Tyre – Zahrani district has the lowest number of running lists with 2

Beirut II has the largest with 9

  • The largest projected threshold will be in the district of Tyre – Zahrani or Akkar with around 22,000.

The smallest will be in Beirut I with around 7,000

  • Here is a breakdown of the different lists colors:

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Tyre – Zahrani* , a tough battle to break a monopoly!

The deep South, the stronghold of Speaker Nabih Berri and his party Amal. Despite Hezbollah pressure and influence, Speaker Berri has been able to cement his control over this area, while keeping it relatively liberal. Indeed, you can still have a drink on the seaside, while enjoying a swim in Tyre, as opposed to the rest of the south, which have fallen under Hezbollah more strict and conservative hegemony.
Historically, the region has been under the influence of a few feudal families like the As’ad and the Ousseiran, with a significant communist and leftist presence. With the advent of Moussa Sader and the civil war in 1975, these families lost their predominance to the new kids on the block: Hezbollah and Amal. It was in the late 80 and early 90’s that Hezbollah’s predominance grew, as they got rid of most of the communist and leftist opposition.
In 2009, Speaker Berri list won handily with an average of 90% of the votes cast. However, only 51% (125,000 out of 245,500)** of the registered voters participated, due mostly to the nature of the majoritarian law and the lack of viable opposition (14 March candidates did not run in that district).
It is not longer 2009, the law is proportional, and despite having the smallest number of running candidates in all districts (13 candidates in a district with 7 seats) and the smallest number of lists (just two). Speaker Berri and Hezbollah are faced with a well-rounded list, formed by Riad Assaad, a scion of the old family, and an young engineer with a good political and social presence in the area. He is allied with a few independents from different backgrounds (leftist, and some old communists), in addition to a christian from President Aoun’s FPM.
However, with a high threshold, estimated at 21 or 22,000, and a small and fractured Sunni and Christian minority (they both form less than 20% of registered and even less than that of participating voters) the opposing list is facing with an uphill fight. The battle will be fought around Riad Assaad list ability to break through the threshold to just win a seat. Meanwhile, speaker Berri’s strategy revolves on shoring up the Shia participation and vote, to consolidate his grip over Tyre, and ensure that the christian minority in Zahrani stays loyal to him, without drifting to any christian political party (Aoun’s FPM).
With an increased heated rhetoric and attacks against the opposing list, it seems al As’ad list is gaining momentum, and it might win that symbolic seat. Such a win would show that Hezbollah and Amal’s twin monopoly on Shia districts representation is degrading, and an alternative -albeit small- independent Shia movement is growing and taking shape.
*the disrict is officially called Tyre – saida villages, which includes Zahrani and is very confusing
** number are rounded for ease of reading

Saida – Jezzine, the smallest district and biggest battle!

The saida Jezzine district is the smallest among the 15 others, with only 5 seats. Officially there are around 120,000 are registered and it is expected that around 70,000 will vote (60%, with more voting in Saida than in Jezzine), indicating a minimum threshold of around 14,000.
saida jezzine close up
Saida is the third largest city in Lebanon, after Beirut and Tripoli. It is a Sunni stronghold, forming more 80% of its population. Saida’s two parliamentary seats have always been coveted, especially after the end of the civil war, when Rafik Hariri, who originated from the small coastal city entered the political arena.
Before the war, Saida had one seat, and it was fiercely contested by the Saad family (Marrouf then Mustapha after him) and the Biziri family headed by Dr. Nazih Bizri. This competition did not end after the war, as the Hariri’s represented by Bahiaa (the sister of Rafik Hariri) inherited the Bizri seat after the death of Nazih, and took over the contest against Oussam Saad.
In 2009, saida had one of the highest rate of participation with 68%. In that election Bahiaa Hariri and PM Fouad Sinioura won handsomely with 25,500 and 23,000 votes to 13,500 for Oussama Saad, who at the time was allied with Abed Rahman Bizri, the son of the late Nazih.*
It is important to note that the 2009 numbers are not an accurate measure for the different lists in 2018. The alliances have shifted, there is a new law in play, and the parties’ popularities have considerably shifted since 2009.
This time Saida has been merged with Jezzine, a large Christian village, with a substantial Shiite block of around 7,000 voters. In 2009 Aoun’s FPM won all three seats with 16,000 to Samir Azzar’s 10,000 angering Speaker Berri, who supported his long time ally from the Azar family.
In this upcoming elections, four lists are competing, three with a serious chance of winning at least a seat. They include most of the city’s political players.
The first list is supported by the Future Movement, headed by MP Bahiaa Hariri, backed by a number of independent personalities, most prominent among them is Amin Rizik the son of Edmon Rizik, who lost in 2009, but still received 7,400 votes. The prospect for this list are an assured seat, as Hariri would be able to muster more than 14,000. Their chances for a second seats relies on how many extra votes they can win in Jezzine.
The second list is an amalgam of political alliances. President Aoun’s FPM is running a fierce battle against Speaker Berri candidate in Jezzine Ibrahim Azzar. With tension rising between the president and the speaker, Jezzine will be a very contentious district. In 2009 FPM got 15,500 and they are expected to get that number and some more. But again due to the peculiarities of this law, their chances of getting three Christians seats are slim. However, their alliance with Abed Rahman Bizri and the Jamma Islamia (a branch of the Muslim brotherhood), is giving them at least 10,000 additional votes, making their prospects more positive. This list has the most chances to get two seats with an additional possibility of getting a third.
The third list is an alliance between Ibrahim Azar in Jezzine and Oussam Saad in Saida. Each has a strong core of followers, which are supported by the Shiite blocks in both areas. Azar family and the invaluable support of speaker Berri will net them around 10,000 votes in Jezzine, while Oussama Saad can count on at least 9,000 in Saida. This list has one seat assured for Mr. Azar, with a good chance of getting another. (The list has two additional candidates but they do not have any significant base of support)
Lastly, the fourth and weakest list formed by an alliance between the Lebnaese forces candidate in Jezzine Ajaj Haddad who got 6,500 votes in 2009, and the Kateab candidate Joeseph Nahra, in addition to Samir Bizri, a newcomer to the political arena in Saida. However, Samir Bizri is closely related to Mr. Merhi Abou Merhi, a very wealthy merchant from Saida, who dabbled in some politics a few years ago, but his profile was damaged when he was hit by US sanctions. Still, this list would need an additional 8,000 votes to reach the threshold, a tough act in an already crowded field. Yet with an abundance of funds, and a heated elections, surprises can still happen.
*all numbers are slightly rounded for ease of reading, for the exact results please check this link.

What is this about?

This website aims to spread knowledge about the upcoming Lebanese parliamentary election, focusing on informing its readers on the law, how to vote, and then the possible outcome. You can find important information in our resources page, such as a map of the 15 districts, a full copy of the electoral law Arabic and English, and many more. Please feel free to contact us for any inquiries of questions.
Moreover, once enough polls and projections of the result have been published (we will make sure to link and copy them in here), we will use these numbers and several methods, to construct a Poll of Polls. This poll will have an increased accuracy of projecting the result, mainly by averaging different polls over time, and thus reducing bias and sampling errors.
Don’t forget our widget counting down to election day! we have less than 84 days to E-day! speaking of which, please check if your name, and your loved ones’ is on the electoral lists! you can check it in here: http://www.dgps.gov.lb/election/index.php

Trend Analysis explained!

Similarly, to yesterday’s explanation of the POLL of POLLS (PoPs), we will use some fictive polls to illustrate the trend analysis.
Yesterday’s articles explained the PoPs. For the trend analysis, we need to receive a few more polls from the same statistics companies or pollsters, spread out over a longer period of time, for the same district.
For example, let us assume that we have an additional two polls for Zahleh, taken over a period of two weeks:
 
Fictive poll 1 (with two sets of numbers, taken one week apart):

Party name Projected % 1st poll Projected % 2nd poll, a week after Trend
Future Movement 22.1 20.1 -2
Hezbollah 16.7 17.7 +1
FPM (Aoun) 11.2 11.2 0
Popular bloc (Skaff) 10.5 9.5 -1
Lebanese Forces 9.5 10.5 +1


Fictive poll 2 (with two sets of numbers, taken one week apart):

Party name Projected % 1st poll Projected % 2nd poll, a week after Trend
Future Movement 19.7 18 -1.7
Hezbollah 18.9 20 +1.1
Lebanese Forces 13.5 15 +1.5
FPM (Aoun) 11.5 12.8 +1.3
Popular Bloc (Skaff) 9.2 9 -0.2

As you can see, the two polls have two different sets of numbers. Yet, in a trend analysis, voting percentage matter less than TREND! Ie how much this voting percentage changed over time.
In our fictive example, both polls had similar trends, and this allowed us to reach important conclusions. For example, Hezbollah popularity is rising with an average of 1% (we averaged the two trend numbers). While Aoun’s is slightly rising with only .65%, Meanwhile Future Movement is dropping with an average of -1.8%
For convenience sake, let’s assume another set of polls came out after another week (we will call it week 3), and we calculated the average and we got these results.

Party name Week 2 polls average Week 3 polls average Week 4 polls average
Future Movement 19.7 18 22
Hezbollah 18.9 20 20
Lebanese Forces 13.5 15 16
FPM (Aoun) 11.5 12.8 14
Popular Bloc (Skaff) 9.2 9 7

 
The Magic Chart (work in progress):
chart
In conclusion, if we use both tools PoPs and the Trend Analysis we can obtain a much clearer picture of the electoral race than using any other poll or numbers! This website will focus on these two tools and we will try to update our main trend analysis and PoPs charts, as often as the abundance of polls allows us.
 

How does a POLL of POLLS work?

The system, used by Nate Silver’s 538 and Real Clear Politics, focuses on aggregating the largest number of polls and surveys. Then the idea is to calculate an average poll, which should reflect reality with more accuracy.
Moreover, the additional focus of such a system could be more on the trends that could be calculated by comparing the polls of the same resource relative to time.
Let me demonstrate the POLL of POLLS calculation:
With the elections still several months away, few polls have been made public. There is one made for the Zahleh district in the Bekaa (the poll was made by Fghali and published in Al Akhbar newspaper). Here is its finding:

Party name Projected votes Projected percentage
Future Movement 28,004 24.1
Hezbollah 22,654 15.6
FPM (Aoun) 14,612 12.6
Popular bloc (Skaff) 14,074 12.1
Lebanese Forces 14,074 12.1

Fictive poll 1:At this point, such a poll will not be very reliable, and would certainly have certain bias. Thus, having two or more would increase our certainty. For example, I will add two additional fictive polls to illustrate how this site’s projections will work.

Party name Projected percentage
Future Movement 22.1
Hezbollah 16.7
FPM (Aoun) 11.2
Popular bloc (Skaff) 10.5
Lebanese Forces 9.5

Fictive poll 2:

Party name Projected percentage
Hezbollah 19.7
Future Movement 18.9
Lebanese Forces 13.5
FPM (Aoun) 11.5
Popular bloc (Skaff) 9.2

Now if we calculate the poll averages of all three (by applying a simple average formula, in this case (poll 1+2+3)/3 ), our projection accuracy would certainly increase. In this fictive example, this is what the average would look like:
POLL of POLLS

Party name Projected percentage
Future Movement 21.7
Hezbollah 17.2
FPM (Aoun) 11.76
Lebanese Forces 11.7
Popular bloc (Skaff) 10.6

Finally, such a Poll of Polls would inherently be more accurate and less affected by political or methodological biases. Thus, this blog will maintain a POLL of POLLS for all 15 districts, once more than three polls are published for each! The Poll will have it’s own dedicated page, and each update will be published on the main page and on the several attached social media outlets.
Tomorrow, I will further explain how a trend analysis of polls would work. But it should look like this:
general-election-ge2017-desktop
Image courtesy: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/general-election-2017-poll-tracker-1622392