Posted by: sean | June 8, 2009

Etrange victoire?

orange 1As usual, Qifa Nabki’s on the ball. Here he is with some ideas about the March 14 victory before I’ve even put on pants or made coffee:

(1) the high turnout of Sunnis in Zahle — many of whom came from abroad — coupled with a low turnout of Christians; (2) strong feelings of antipathy towards Hizbullah by the Christians of Beirut who voted decisively for March 14th’s list in the district of Achrafieh; (3) some rare rhetorical blunders by Nasrallah in the past couple of weeks, calling the events of May 7th “a glorious day” for the resistance.

I think he’s right on target here. A lot of people will insist on attributing Hariri’s success to Saudi money, but it’s not clear how much that helped, at least in the visible aspects, like advertising. Also, there’s the Iranian money and whoever was funding the Aounists, who seemed to have an unlimited supply of cash to paint the sky orange with a thousand billboards at a time.

Personally, I think that the huge influx of voters from abroad has been a key factor. One stat I read estimated that some 19,000 voters had come from abroad in the two days preceding the election. Of course many more came before, and I  imagine some even came the day of. I also agree with Qifa Nabki that animosity towards Hezbollah and Nasrallah’s speeches (especially the “glorious day” remark) probably hurt Aoun.

And speaking of Aoun, it will be interesting to see where the FPM goes from here. This was supposed to be the party’s chance to really govern with a clear mandate, and that clearly won’t be the case. How will Aoun explain the alliance with Hezbollah and Amal in light of this defeat? Will March 8 continue to function as a bloc, or will Aoun and the Shi’a parties go their separate ways, each playing a different function in the new government? The next few weeks will certainly be interesting on a number of fronts.

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