Lebanon's PM Hariri says parliament bloc down by a third

The prime minister said on Monday the worldwide community should look at the results of Lebanon's election in a "very positive way".

The Hezbollah and Amal Movement fielded joint "Hope and Loyalty" lists in many electoral districts for this election.

"This is a great political and moral victory for the resistance option that protects the sovereignty of the country", Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address.

Despite losses sustained by his party, Saudi-backed Saad Hariri would still have the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, facilitating his return as prime minister to form the next government.

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The general election for Lebanon's 128-member parliament, Lebanon's first parliamentary elections in nine years, was held on Sunday, with over 500 candidates vying for seats.

However, according to unofficial preliminary results cited by politicians and Lebanese media, Hezbollah and its political allies won more than half the seats.

The election was held under that law adopted past year, which was expected to give Hezbollah a majority in parliament. They gathered in the city center, where Hezbollah supporters hung their flags on the statue of Lebanon's late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, conveying a thousand meanings and messages. Informal results are expected to start coming in overnight and official tallies in the coming days.

As many as 800,000 voters under the age of 30 were expected to cast ballots for the first time. The United States designates Hezbollah as a terrorist group and also arms and trains the Lebanese army.

An unprecedented number of women candidates ran, and the number in Parliament appeared to rise to seven from four, which is low compared to other states in the region.

Hezbollah, which was created in the 1980s to fight against Israel and now battles in Syria alongside regime forces, is listed as a terror organisation by the United States. But he acknowledged that his "Future Movement", Hezbollah's main rival, was losing a third of its seats.

The next political phase in the country begins with the election of a parliament speaker, and then the naming of a president responsible for the formation of the government.

"Speaking as a college student, we need jobs, we need more respect, we need to be cured, we need to be helped, we hoped to have everything new, everything better than before", Jalal Bukhari, a 23-year-old college student, told Xinhua at the polling station in the Omar Fakhuri Primary School in southern Beirut, the capital.

Turnout was 49.2%, down from 54% the last time legislative elections were held nine years ago.

This settlement allowed the election of Aoun as president, the adoption of a distorted election law based on proportional representation, and the launch of several economic projects.

The staunchly anti-Hezbollah Lebanese Forces, a Christian party, appears to have emerged as a big victor, almost doubling its MPs to 15 from eight, according to the unofficial indications.

Aoun said the preferential vote was necessary as voters would likely prefer some candidates on the list to others. Preliminary results showed two from the Kollouna Watani coalition, Paula Yacoubian and Joumana Haddad, gaining seats in Beirut.

In 2013, elections were postponed for security reasons and again in 2014 and 2017 as politicians disagreed on the particulars of a new electoral system. That, along with the new electoral law, injected some unpredictability to the process. "The problem with this election: a lot of people didn't understand it", he said.

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