The polls have opened in Lebanon in the country’s crucial parliamentary elections. Shi’ite Hezbollah and its allies – supported by Iran and Syria – are competing with an anti-Syrian bloc backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Hezbollah is the most powerful single group in the country even though it is fielding only 11 candidates for the 128 member parliament. Campaigning was intense in the run up to today’s poll. Across Lebanon candidates attended rallies – and appeared on TV in last minute efforts to sway voters. Lebanese politics has suffered a wave of assassinations and other violence in recent years. And in 2008 political and Sunni/Shi’ite tensions brought the country to the brink of civil war. Lebanon has witnessed a period of calm ahead of this election. Analysts expect a tight race with no party securing a comfortable victory. The most likely outcome: a national unity government similar to the current one.