In Lebanon, legislative elections raise tenuous hope for change

At only 23 years old, Verena Al-Amil was one of the figures of the “thaoura”, the October 2019 uprising in Lebanon. From the Faculty of Law at Saint-Joseph University in Beirut, where she founded the student movement Taleb (“claims”) and chaired the Secular Club, she took her fight to the streets against the denominational system and political leaders. accused of having precipitated the country into bankruptcy. “The ‘thaura’ represented a real possibility for change. She broke taboos, the divine figures of zaïms [chefs communautaires] : they now know that they are accountable”she believes.

At 26, now a lawyer, she has decided to continue the battle at the polls, becoming one of the youngest candidates in the legislative elections on May 15. “After the ‘thaoura’, the economic crisis, the explosion at the port of Beirut, I was not going to give up and tell this political class that they won”explains Verena Al-Amil. “If we don’t go now, then when?” If not us, then who? »she continues, claiming to lead the fight for those of her generation who were disappointed that the “thaoura” did not bring a radical change and those whom the crisis pushed into exile.

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It front of zaïms rooted in their strongholds, with a well-rehearsed electoral machine, the battle promises to be difficult for the 284 candidates from the opposition camp and the independents. Revolutionary fervor has been swept away by crises. The electoral law does not work in their favor, any more than the dispersion of candidates on competing lists. However, they hope to do better than in the 2018 election, where only one opposition candidate won one of the 128 seats in the Assembly. Voting trends for expatriates, particularly in the United Arab Emirates and France, have given them some hope.

Verena Al-Amil hesitated for a while before throwing herself into battle. Having been unable to find a place on a list in Beirut, it is in the region of Metn, a stronghold of the traditional Christian parties, that she is running for a Maronite seat. “Without entries into the social fabric and without a budget”the candidate knows that she has almost no chance, even less than her running mates from Nahwa Al-Daoula, the journalist Jad Ghosn and the director Lucien Bourjeily, who are better known. “People in Metn prefer to vote for people they know, big familiesshe laments. In their minds, a politician is a man over 50 who has a lot of money and offers services. »

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