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.

The list are finally out!

After a tumultuous month, filled with Machiavelli’s political machinations and Shakespearean plots, the electoral lists for the next election in Lebanon, are set! 77 lists were officially registered, vying for 128 parliamentary seats in 15 districts!
It was a bumpy ride, filled with backstabbing, bluffs, and some last minutes surprises. Most political parties waited until the last possible moment, before unveiling their lists. Intense negotiations were still ongoing even hours before the deadline on midnight of the 26 March. All sides were keeping their cards hidden for as long as possible, trying to maximize their strength and weaken their opponents. Immense pressure was applied on various candidates to change their allegiance or even withdraw. In the last feverish days, a many candidates visited their sectarian leaders to withdraw their candidacy and support the party line.
In Saida for instance, the alliances kept shifting between the different parties. One day it was Future Movement’s Bahia Hariri with Aoun’s FPM, the next day Abed Rahman Bizri joined their list, to face off Speaker Berri’s Azzar and Oussam Saad. The day after, the alliance shifted and Bizri was out. Another day and in a complete surprise, Bizri was back in, with the Mulsim Brotherhood candidate in tow, while Bahia Hariri decided to run with independent candidates.
That was in the Saida-Jezzine district, the smallest in Lebanon. Imagine the chaos in the bigger districts. Indeed, in several big districts, candidates were being added and removed from list, just hours before the deadline! It was a roller-coaster, at time frustrating, but always exhilarating. I wonder how the candidates dealt with it!
However, now we are set. The official tally of lists in each districts is out and electoral campaign can go into overdrive.
On our side, we will start a series of article detailing the lists in each districts, and trying to do some forecasting. Additionally, polls will be published at a higher frequency, and we will be able to populate our Poll of Polls and have a clearer picture of the forecasts.

A market in full swing!

With the period for individual candidates registration closing fast (it ends on March 7, 60 days before elections), it is a general stamped!
Every major party has announced or will soon announce their list of candidates, as an opening bid in a very complicated and multi layered poker game.
However, the field of candidates will rapidly be filled with too many candidates, some known, and others not, some affiliated to the parties, but many not… There are many causes for this exuberance, but mainly:
First, fielding a large number of candidates will raise the price of any future negotiation or alliance. “I am sorry but I already announce Mr. X as a candidate in this district, I cannot support your candidate…” is a very convenient excuse. It forces the other party to up their price, offering another seat or two for that coveted spot!
Second, the parties need to field a large number of candidates, in case alliances shift and they will have to switch a few seats here and there. Especially, when considering the sectarian electoral mosaic.
Third, you never know what tomorrow brings, and that goes doubly in Lebanon. Better to have a few extra candidates, just in case! Maybe someone feels pressured, or maybe a party member switches allegiance.
Fourth, there is an old Lebanese scheme: A number of hopeless candidates would register nevertheless, knowing they hold a famous family name, or a few hundred votes, or a specific Ace up their sleeve, and they will wait. They will wait for the highest bidder to buy them off. Usually, they are paid handsomely! Oh, if only we apply that beautiful creative force into something fruitful and long-term!
March is going to be a month filled with drama, backstabbing, and Lebanese political horse-trading at its finest! Indeed, the real negotiations will only start after the candidate window registration closes. It is hard to judge the battle before each general has at least start lining up his soldiers.
When March 27 comes, and lists are set. Then the real campaign will start, as each party has formed their alliance and there is no more room for negotiations.
Then the roulette ball will start spinning… “rien ne va plus!”

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:

Polls: Zahleh

in this poll of Zhaleh district balance of power, made by Kamal Fghaleh, published in Al-Akhbar Newspaper, several pertinent points can be made, but first i will summarize the main findings, and you can check the link and the picture below for full details:

Party name Projected votes Projected %
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

1- The projected threshold in this district is 16,360 achievable by many lists, especially if they work together.
2- Future Movement has the largest project share with 28,000 votes, which translates into 1.7 seats.
3- Zahleh is under a big spot light. In 2009 it was highly contested and its seven seats gave March 14 the majority, when they won with 55% of the votes.
4- with its wide sectarian distribution, and with each having only one seat (except the Catholics with two votes), Zahleh can be considered as a small scale representation of Lebanon.
5- Unfortunately, this poll does not show how each sect voted. In other words, how much did FM get out of the Sunni votes, and how much did FPM get out of the Christian vote. These numbers are very important in determining the overall popularity of each party in their own sectarian base.
6- This is an old poll, I believe a lot has changed since then, but it gives us a data point that will be useful when more polls are published.
zahleh survey dec 2017 fghali.jpg

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):
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:

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:
Image courtesy:

Here we go!

The May 6, 2018 parliamentary elections is just around the corner. this site will try to be a one stop shop for all information about the upcoming elections, including the laws, the different districts maps, and general information. I will also try to follow all the published numbers, forecasts and polling, link them in this website. Additionally, i intend to devise an overall trend analyzing tool, in an effort to craft a scientific approach to forecasting, similar to Nate Silver’ 538 website.
The idea is to collect the maximum number of published polls. Then a average is calculated, followed by constructing a trend line, which will show how each party is doing, and if their popularity is increasing or deceasing relative to time. This method is very effective, and can to a high degree, limit the influence of each polls bias from the overall accuracy of the model.
Feel free to check the available resources on this page!