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After a 21-month delay, the Lebanese government finally conducted the parliamentary by-election in Jezzine on May 22, 2016 to fill out the Maronite seat which had become vacant on June 27, 2014 following the death of MP Michel Helo. According to Article 41 of the Lebanese Constitution, the election of a successor has to begin within two months from the date of the vacancy. 
Although the term of the new MP is going to be a short one, not exceeding 13 months, the by-election was marked by real competition between four candidates, particularly between Amal Abou Zaid and Ibrahim Azar. Jezzine’s by-election was considered a prelude to the general parliamentary elections expected before June 20, 2017 and a sequel to the electoral battle that characterized the Qada’a in 2009 particularly between the Free Patriotic Movement and Speaker Nabih Berri. 

2009 Parliamentary Election

In 2009, the major rivalry was between the list backed by the Free Patriotic Movement and MP Samir Azar, the candidate backed by Speaker Nabih Berri. Voter turnout amounted to 53.6% and the FPM emerged victorious. The 2009 electoral results broke down as follows:

Ziad Aswad (Maronite) 15,648 votes
Issam Sawaya (Greek Catholic) 14,914 votes
Michel Helo (Maronite) 13,291 votes
Samir Azar (Maronite) 10,792 votes
Antoine Khoury (Greek Catholic) 5,220 votes
Kamil Serhal (Maronite): 5,403 votes
Edmond Rizk (Maronite) 7,399 votes 
Ajaj Haddad (Greek Catholic) 6,498 votes
Fawzi El-Asmar (Maronite) 4,338 votes

The large number of votes obtained by Samir Azar was credited to the Shia’a vote. The Shia’a electorate totaled 10,467 in 2009 with 5960 casting their votes. Of those, 4990 voters or 83.7% voted for Azar. The Maronite and Greek Catholic candidates on the FPM list received 52.2% which decreased the votes for Michel Helo.  

2016 Parliamentary By-Election

Four candidates contested the by-election in 2016. Amal Abou Zeid won convincingly with 14,653 votes or 53.5% of the total vote. Second in line was Ibrahim Azar who amassed 7,759 votes equaling 28%.

The results are remarkable because the votes received by Amal Abou Zeid were fairly close to those received by the winners in 2009 while Ibrahim Azar’s votes were lower than his father’s in 2009 by 3,000 votes. 

The distribution of votes by area is illustrated in Table 1 and shows the supremacy of Azar over Abou Zeid by roughly 400 votes in the city of Jezzine (Azar's hometown). 

Table 1: Distribution of votes by area 

Distribution of voters by area # of eligible voters # of actual voters Amal Hekmat Aou Zeid Salah Nqoula Jobran Patrick Elias Rizkalla Ibrahim Samir Azar
Votes % Votes % Votes % Votes %
City of Jezzine 8,007 3,820 1,509 39.5 183 4.8 36 0.9 1,941 50.8
Towns of Jezzine 48,603 23,580 13,144 55.7 2,959 12.5 364 1.5 5,818 24.7
Qada’a of Jezzine 56,610 27,400 14,653 53.5 3,142 11.5 400 1.5 7,759 28.3

By sect, Abou Zeid surpassed his rival among Christian and Shia’a voters while Azar fared better among Sunni voters as illustrated in Table 2. 

Table 2: Distribution of votes by sect 

Distribution of votes by sect # of eligible voters # of actual voters Amal Hekmat Bou Zeid Salah Nqoula Jobran Patrick Elias Rizkalla Ibrahim Samir Azar
Votes % Votes % Votes % Votes %
Maronite 29,623 14,287 7,449 52.1 1,717 12.0 243 1.7 4,152 29.1
Shia’a 9,663 4,291 2,589 60.3 159 3.7 32 0.7 1,168 27.2
Greek Catholic 5,392 2,518 1,449 57.5 371 14.7 29 1.2 564 22.4
Maronite & Greek Catholic 4,292 2,185 1,194 54.6 293 13.4 27 1.2 581 26.6
Greek Catholic & Maronite   1,300 1,154 516 44.7 363 31.5 19 1.6 216 18.7
Shia’a & Maronite 1,150 419 226 53.9 13 3.1 3 0.7 134 32.0
Maronite & Sunni & Shia’a 1,162 494 357 72.3 59 11.9 2 0.4 80 16.2
Maronite & Shia’a 1,031 559 204 36.5 82 14.7 23 4.1 207 37.0
Maronite & Sunni  964 576 293 50.9 40 6.9 18 3.1 202 35.1
Maronite & Druze 898 450 229 50.9 20 4.4 3 0.7 173 38.4
Sunni 772 301 60 19.9 25 8.3 1 0.3 209 69.4
Druze 363 166 87 52.4 0 0.0 0 0.0 73 44.0
Total 56,610 27,400 14,653 53.50% 3,142 11.5% 400 1.5% 7,759 28.3%


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