Lebanon is holding the second round of municipal elections Sunday amid a political deadlock that has paralyzed state institutions .
Voters are heading to the polls in the Christian, Druze, and Shiite Mount Lebanon regions — which includes the suburbs of the capital and its mountainous surroundings.
The Hezbollah party-militia, which is deeply involved in the war in neighboring Syria, is expected to win in its strongholds in Beirut’s southern suburbs.
The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections monitoring group is reporting dozens of election violations, including vote buying and voter intimidation. It recorded 647 violations in the first round of elections, which included Beirut, last week.
Hundreds of thousands of Mount Lebanon residents cast ballots in the second phase of the country’s mostly-peaceful polls Sunday, with a much higher percent of voter turnout ( 56%) than the Beirut elections ( about 20 %) that took place last week.
Elections in 45 municipalities were decided by acclamation before polls even opened, the Interior Ministry said, however electoral battles took place in the key cities of Jounieh, Sin al-Fil, Baabda, Hadath, Ghobeiri Deir al Qamar and other areas.
834,768 were eligible to vote in the elections in Mount Lebanon and there were 3,217 polling stations and 6,790 candidates running in 325 municipal councils.
Similar elections are planned for the South Lebanon and Nabatieh governorates on May 22, and the North Lebanon and Akkar governorates on May 29.
Legislative by-elections are scheduled for the south Lebanon district of Jezzine to fill a vacant seat in Parliament on May 22.
The Interior Ministry has said that around 20,000 security forces members will be deployed at polling stations around the country at each phase of the elections.
Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said the security situation was completely under control and that his ministry had solved all issues that marred last week’s elections, including vote-buying.
Sunday’s elections saw the country’s three main Christian parties facing off in many areas, despite their alliances in others.
Mount Lebanon governor Fouad Fleifel told the National News Agency that the elections were carried out peacefully, “without any significant problems.”
Polls closed at 7:00 p.m.
In a press conference after the elections , Machnouk announced that six people had been detained, five over bribes plus the head of the polling station in the Jbeil district village of Tortaj, who was sacked for having three ballot lists in his pocket.
Monitoring group Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) recorded 569 violations in total across Lebanon, the most being in the Baabda district with 158 volations. It said that while the Interior Ministry had made some improvements in comparison to the last elections on May 8 in the capital and east Lebanon, the polls were still marred by chaos and the presence of security personnel inside polling stations, bribes, scuffles and pressure on voters.