Hizbullah weapons: Will polls make radical changes
The main issue that would polarize the new parliament elected on Sunday is Hizbullah's right to keep an arsenal that is described as equivalent to or better than the state's.
Some see it as a historical right and the best defense for the small Mediterranean country while others consider Hizbullah's weapons to be the root of all of Lebanon's ills.
“They forgot the political system, economic system, corruption, the war in Syria and its effects on Lebanon and they forgot the American sanctions,” Hibullah's MP Hussein Haj Hassan said.
Sami Nader, an analyst with the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs, said that Hizbullah had suffered symbolic losses but was skeptical the polls could yield radical changes.
"Hizbullah and the Iranian axis took a blow but will this pave way for change in Lebanon? I have doubts," he told AFP.
The formation of a government, the election of parliament's speaker and the presidential election could all be very contentious and lead to protracted political crises.
Speaker Nabih Berri has held his job since 1992.
President Michel Aoun, the world's third oldest head of state, had long planned for his son-in-law Jebran Bassil to take over but the Lebanese Forces' surge in the polls could disrupt that scenario.
Disarming Hizbullah has dominated political campaigns among almost all of the group’s opponents, while Hizbullah supporters consider the group defended Lebanon against Israel and against attacks by the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked militants over the years.
“Personally, I am not optimistic about these elections, and I do not think that the U.S. administration should bet on these elections,” said former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker last week, in a webinar for the Washington Institute.
Hizbullah was fighting Israeli forces occupying parts of south Lebanon, before Israel's withdrawal in 2020.