Lebanese parliament fails to elect president on first try

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Members of the Lebanese parliament were unable to elect a president on their first attempt on Thursday because none of the candidates received the required two-thirds of the vote.

According to the Lebanese constitution, a candidate must receive at least two-thirds of the votes in the 128-seat parliament. In case a second round of voting is needed, the candidates must receive 50% plus one vote.

At Thursday’s meeting, the speaker of parliament announced that 63 lawmakers did not vote for any of the candidates, 36 lawmakers voted for an independent parliamentarian, 50-year-old Michel Mouawad, and 11 lawmakers cast their votes in favor of Salim Edde, a prominent representative of the Lebanese diaspora in France.

The second round of elections did not take place due to the lack of a quorum after several lawmakers left the meeting. As a result, the speaker of parliament must call a new session to try once more to elect the president.

On October 31, the six-year term of the incumbent president, 88-year-old Michel Aoun, ends. Aoun became president after two and a half years and more than 45 parliamentary sessions as the country was in a protracted crisis due to constant political disagreements, and candidates could not get the required number of votes.

At the moment, a transitional cabinet is operating in the country, and the formation of a new cabinet has been delayed for more than a month due to political differences.

Lebanon has for over two years been plunged in a deep financial and economic crisis, accompanied by political and social tensions. Amid the crisis, the banking system was almost completely paralyzed, the national currency depreciated more than 20 times against the dollar. As a result, more than 70 percent of the population found themselves below the poverty line.