Subscribe

In Lebanon vote, counting skills and glass ballot box make all the difference

Michel Aoun became Lebanon's president Monday. At one point, 128 parliamentarians voted, even though only 127 were present.  

  • close
    Newly elected Lebanese president Michel Aoun sits on the president's chair inside the presidential palace in Baabda, near Beirut, Lebanon October 31, 2016.
    Aziz Taher/Reuters
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

The parliamentary session to elect Lebanon’s new president Monday was the 46th to be held since April 2014 but the first to gain a full complement of MPs.

The previous 45 sessions were boycotted by MPs loyal to Michel Aoun, who refused to attend unless they could guarantee their candidate would win.

Lebanon’s parliament has 128 seats, and 127 serving MPs entered the chamber ahead of the noon vote (one MP resigned his seat earlier in the year).The session was good-humored, with the MPs chatting animatedly while waiting for Nabih Berri, Lebanon’s lugubrious and veteran parliamentary speaker, to call the session to order.

Each MP was handed a slip of white paper on which he or she was supposed to write down the name of their preferred candidate. In the first round of voting, a presidential candidate is required to obtain a two-thirds majority to win the presidency. A failure to win two-thirds of the vote leads to a second session in which a simple majority is required.

Once the votes were collected in a glass box, Marwan Hamade, a Druze MP, read out each slip of paper. Most of them carried the name of Michel Aoun. Just over one-third in the first count were blank ballots, a symbolic protest against Aoun and in support of Suleiman Frangieh, the other presidential candidate.

Mr. Hamade’s brow furrowed at one point as he stared at an unlikely name on a ballot slip.

“Myriam Klink,” he announced to loud guffaws of surprised laughter. Ms. Klink is a Lebanese-Serbian pop star known for her raunchy lyrics and videos.

The result of the first poll left Aoun just three votes short of the required two-thirds, necessitating a second ballot. Berri read out the tally but added Klink’s name to the list of spoiled papers.

“Why isn’t Myriam Klink included?” asked Sami Gemayel, leader of the Christian Phalange Party. “She’s Orthodox,” replied a stone-faced Mr. Berri, alluding to the fact that by tradition the Lebanese presidency is reserved only for Maronite Catholics.

The second vote proceeded but soon ran into trouble when 128 ballot papers were counted, although there were only 127 MPs present.“It seems we have forgotten how to vote. What a shame,” said Berri as a third round of voting was ordered.

But again, a mysterious extra ballot made its way into the box. For the fourth round, the glass ballot box was placed on a table before the speaker’s podium and each parliamentarian, called by name, made their way to the front and deposited their voting slip under the watchful eye of Hamade and the deputy speaker.

This time 127 votes were received and the process of counting them began. There was one last moment of levity when one of the ballot papers included the name “Zorba the Greek.” As Aoun received his 65th - and deciding - vote, the chamber burst into applause, nearly drowned out by the eruption of thunderous fireworks and celebratory gunfire from the new president’s supporters outside.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK