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How Do Lebanese Political Parties Win Elections?

Georgia Dagher,
Sami Atallah,
Najib Zoghaib

Lebanese political parties have resorted to several electoral strategies to win the hearts and minds of voters. These strategies are rarely built around policy programs, and are rather often aimed at restricting competition. 

With that in mind, TPI monitored political parties and candidates’ behavior on the ground and their campaigning efforts in the run-up to the 2022 parliamentary elections to identify the strategies they employed to secure electoral success. Monitoring such behavior is imperative as electoral strategies can often distort voters’ freedom of choice and competing candidates’ ability to campaign. We identified three main strategies: the provision of incentives to attract supporters, the use of public institutions to promote electoral campaigns, and the use of violence and campaign suppression to control competing candidates’ behavior.1

Provision of incentives to win the votes
Our findings show that political parties and candidates provided both individualistic and club goods and services on a continual basis for weeks before elections day. Beneficiaries did not only include individual voters, but also covered whole neighborhoods. While parties mostly used private funds, some also abused public resources for electoral gains. 

In light of the shortages in medication and fuel, and increases in food prices, healthcare consultations, and electricity bills, parties largely focused on securing these individualistic goods and services to their constituents. 

Not only did parties make private donations to individuals, but they also used public institutions to secure public services to their supporters. For example, in Bekaa 2, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) extended the hours of public electricity in multiple villages. In South 3, only days before the elections, Hezbollah and Amal increased public water provision in multiple municipalities that had suffered from water shortages, and in South 1, FPM ensured public water provision to a specific neighborhood, while Jama’a al Islamiyyah covered families’ unpaid public water bills from 2019—the year the financial crisis started—till 2022.

Vote-buying was not only done through cash payments, as parties also encouraged their constituents to head to the polls by securing transportation, sending private cars, or donating fuel to voters. Candidates do not only target the voters residing in the district they are running in, as they extended their service provision to others outside the district. Indeed, in South 1, Lebanese Forces (LF) candidates secured transportation for their supporters residing in Beirut, while in Mount Lebanon 2, Tashnag, Kataeb, and Michel Murr all purchased flight tickets for Lebanese voters in the diaspora. 

While the provision of such incentives creates an unfair environment, most of these behaviors are not penalized under the electoral law. Article 62 of the electoral law2 prohibits parties and candidates from providing services, goods, or payment to voters during the electoral campaign period, but political parties have managed to work around the article, exploiting one existing loophole: Donations are allowed if they are provided by candidates or institutions owned or managed by parties that have been providing them for at least three years before the elections. 

Given that Lebanese parties have long-established charity organizations and clientelist networks, Article 62 of the law legitimizes clientelist behavior for electoral gains. 

The use of public institutions to gain electoral advantage 
Parties have frequently utilized public property or institutions in order to campaign. While private events were organized, political parties commonly met with municipal council members and religious figures, and occupied public and religious institutions as campaign spaces. This is in clear violation of Article 77 of the electoral law,3 which prohibits the use of public facilities, government institutions, public schools, and places of worship for electoral events or for campaigning. The law also forbids public employees and civil servants to promote a specific candidate, yet many decided to publicly endorse some political parties. 

Such behavior was most frequently observed in South 1, and particularly on the part of FPM, which received the endorsement of multiple mayors and religious figures. In Mount Lebanon 3, three electoral lists were endorsed by different mayors. The Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) even received endorsement from the head of the union of municipalities of Northern Metn. 

As for religious institutions, in Beirut 2, both Al-Ahbash and Jama’a al Islamiyyah advertised their campaigns in mosques for weeks leading up to the elections. In Bekaa 3, FPM and LF campaigned in a church, therefore targeting the Christian community exclusively. 

Other behaviors which violate the electoral law include the use of municipal or public property in order to hang billboards. This was particularly reported in Bekaa 2, where all electoral lists but one hung their billboards on public property. 

These are only some examples of violations of Article 77, which could be more common than reported. But, without proper enforcement and legal repercussions, candidates and public figures will not be incentivized to comply with the law.

Candidates faced campaign suppression, intimidation, harassment, and assault
Two broad types of violent behavior were recorded: Campaign suppression and assault (both physical and verbal). These generally targeted candidates rather than voters. 

Campaign suppression was mostly related to the destruction of billboards or preventing some candidates from displaying them.
In addition, some parties prevented their opponents from renting campaign offices or holding electoral meetings in public spaces.

In addition, some parties prevented their opponents from renting campaign offices or holding electoral meetings in public spaces. There were also a few cases of attempts to get candidates to withdraw from the race, which were reported in Bekaa 3 and Mount Lebanon 4 although they may have occurred in other districts as well. In Bekaa 3, Hezbollah pressured an anti-establishment candidate to withdraw from the race by offering him financial compensation, and in Mount Lebanon 4, both PSP and Tawhid pressured two independent candidates to withdraw in the last few weeks before the elections. 

As for assault, some cases of destruction of property were reported. Most cases, however, were generally threats or harassment, as well as the public intimidation of candidates. In Bekaa 3, one anti-establishment candidate faced harassment by her own family which asserted that she does not represent the family, and that they would remain loyal to Amal. In Mount Lebanon 4, another anti-establishment candidate was harassed by a religious figure due to her views on personal status laws.

Violence in the electoral race, be it physical assault, harassment, suppression, or destruction of property, is seldom penalized. The law does not establish a clear reporting mechanism for the use of violence targeting candidates and their supporters. Establishing such a mechanism should be a priority, as it would allow victims to hold their perpetrators accountable and would empower voters to vote freely without facing threats or intimidations. 


Our findings provide only a sample of political parties’ strategies during elections time, and shed light on behaviors that foster an undemocratic, unfair, and uncompetitive electoral environment. Parties abused public institutions for electoral gains by using them to provide services and to promote their campaigns. This highlights the electoral law’s shortcomings, and shows that, even when legal measures that seek to separate the electoral race from public institutions exist, parties disregard them. Poor enforcement of the prohibitions can be partly attributed to the weak capacity, lack of independence, and lack of judicial authority of the Supervisory Commission for Elections.

However, such behavior has been and continues to be a persistent problem that goes beyond elections and the electoral law, as sectarian parties have captured the state and penetrated its public institutions, using them to serve their own interests. This does not have a short-term or direct solution, but change could start with closer and continuous monitoring of parties’ behaviors on the ground and in public institutions, not only during elections time. In the long-term, this will have the potential to reform the state, lead to equality between voters, and make clientelism obsolete, which would eventually push parties to run for elections on a programmatic basis. 


1.TPI monitored the strategies through a collaboration with a group of independent, non-politically affiliated correspondents in each electoral district. The correspondents tracked events and parties’ behaviors on the ground for a period of six weeks, starting from April 1 to May 14, the day before the elections. They produced a weekly report with descriptions of different events. Based on this, TPI categorized the behaviors into three: (1) The provision of goods and services, (2) campaign advertising, and (3) the use of violence. Each category was further divided into sub-categories. The first category was divided according to the type of good or service, as well as the sector it fell under (e.g. electricity, water, food aid, healthcare, cash). For the second category, TPI focused on identifying if candidates used public or religious institutions to promote their campaigns, and if they met with public or religious figures. The third category was divided into campaign suppression and assault. Campaign suppression entails preventing a candidate from advertising their campaign, either through the display of billboards or the use of a public or private space. Assault includes the use of physical violence, threats, intimidation, and harassment.

2. Article 62 of Law 44/2017 on the election of the members of parliament. Issued on June 17,2017. Available at:

3. Article 77 of Law 44/2017

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