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Beirut I constituency boundary, covering 3 neighbourhoods in eastern Beirut

Beirut I (Arabic: دائرة بيروت الأولى‎) was an electoral district in Lebanon. It covered three neighbourhoods (quartiers) in the eastern parts of the capital; Achrafieh, Rmeil and Saifi.[1] The constituency elected five members of the Parliament of Lebanon; one Maronite, one Greek Orthodox, one Greek Catholic, one Armenian Orthodox and one Armenian Catholic (for more information on the Lebanese electoral system, see Elections in Lebanon).[1] The constituency was created with the 2008 Doha Agreement, ahead of the 2009 parliamentary election.[2]

Contents

CreationEdit

The boundaries and the sectarian seat allocation of the electoral district were defined by the 2008 Doha Agreement, which instituted election districts similar to those of the 1960 Election Law.[3] The creation of Beirut I meant that for the first time since the 1972 parliamentary election there was a Christian-majority electoral district in Beirut (between 1960 and 1972 there was a Christian-majority Beirut I electoral district with slightly different boundaries).[4] The new Election Law was formally adopted on September 28, 2008.[5]

DemographicsEdit

The majority of the Christian population of Beirut lives in Beirut I.[4] The Ministry of Interior and Municipalities reported in 2011 that the constituency had 91,486 voters and the following religious composition: 26.2% Greek Orthodox, 16.73% Maronites, 16.2% Armenian Orthodox, 12.94% Greek Catholic, 11.0% other Christian Minorities, 7.0% Sunni Muslims and 5.2% Armenian Catholics.[1] According to an article in Nahar newspaper published in May 2008, 2.24% of the registered voters of Beirut I were Protestants, 1.89% Shia Muslims and 0.28% Druze.[6] However, many of the registered voters of Beirut I live overseas.[4]

2009 electionEdit

During the 2009 election there were 92,764 registered voters in Beirut I.[1] Before the election a lot of attention was given to the race in Beirut I, as it was one of a handful of electoral districts where the outcome was difficult to predict on forehand.[7] Both March 8 and March 14 sought to mobilize overseas voters to come to Lebanon for the voting day.[4] However, incumbent parliamentarian Michel Pharaon criticized the mobilization of overseas voters.[8]

Free Decision ListEdit

The 'Free Decision List' was the list aligned with the March 14 alliance.[9] As of March 20, 2009 the March 14 candidates in Beirut I were Nadim Gemayel (son of Bashir Gemayel) of the Kataeb Party for the Maronite seat, Michel Pharaon of the Future Movement for the Greek Catholic seat, Nayla Tueni (daughter of Gebran Tueni) for the Greek Orthodox seat.[4] However, the alliance had difficulties defining the Armenian candidates for their list. Both March 8 and March 14 tries to get the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Tashnaqs) to contest on their list. Thus both alliances hesitated to nominate Armenian candidates before the Tashnaq party declared its allegiance.[4]

In November 2008, Tashnaq leaders met with a number of key personalities such as President Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Speaker Nabih Berri, Ministers Elias Murr, Tamam Salam and Tarek Mitri, Jean Kahwaji (Commander-in-Chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces), Sheikh Abdel Amir Kabalan, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir and Metropolitan Elias Audi. On December 1, 2008 a group of Tashnaq leaders met with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.[10] On March 8, 2009 Tashnaq leader Mekhitarian met with Saad Hariri and Michel Murr to discuss the upcoming election. Reportedly Hariri offered the Tashnaqs 4 out of 6 Armenian seats in Lebanon.[11] On April 2, 2009 the Tashnaqs publicly stated that they would contest the elections in alliance with Michel Aoun, rejecting Hariri's offer.[12] The Ramgavar and Hunchak parties were willing to contest on the March 14 list, but the Lebanese Forces also nominated an Armenian Catholic candidate, Richard Kouyoumjian. Many meetings took place to solve the issue. Pharaon presented the candidate of Sebouh Mkjian for the Armenian Orthodox seat. By April 25, 2009 Pharaon withdrew the candidature of Mkhjian. Only on May 20, 2009 did the Lebanese Forces leader withdraw the candidature of Kouyoumjian. In the end the Armenian Orthodox candidate on the March 14 list was Jean Ogassapian of the Ramgavar Party and the sitting parliamentarian Serge Torsarkissian of the Hunchak Party stood as the candidate for the Armenian Catholic seat.[13] The list was publicly declared on May 27, 2009.[14]

Aoun listEdit

The candidates on the list linked to Michel Aoun were declared on April 1, 2009; Massoud Achkar for the Maronite seat, Nicolas Sehnaoui for the Greek Catholic seat, Deputy Prime Minister Issam Abu Jamra of the Free Patriotic Movement for the Greek Orthodox seat, Vrej Sabounjian of the Tashnaq Party for the Armenian Orthodox seat and fellow Tashnaq member Gregoire Kaloust for the Armenian Catholic seat.[4][15]

VotingEdit

37,284 voters cast their votes in Beirut I (40.19%).[1][16] All five candidates on the March 14 list were elected.[16]

Seat Winning candidate Runner-up Margin
Armenian Catholic Serge Torsarkissian
(Hunchak)
19,821 51.7% Gregoire Kaloust
(Tashnaq)
16,817 45.1% 2,464
Armenian Orthodox Jean Ogassapian
(Ramgavar)
19,317 51.8% Vrej Sabounjian
(Tashnaq)
16,778 45% 2,539
Greek Catholic Michel Pharaon
(Future Movement)
19,742 52.9% Nicolas Sehnaoui
(Independent)
16,730 44.9% 3,012
Greek Orthodox Nayla Tueni
(Independent)
19,985 53.6% Issam Abu Jamra
(Free Patriotic Movement)
16,421 44% 3,564
Maronite Nadim Gemayel
(Kataeb)
19,340 51.9% Massoud Achkar
(Independent)
17,209 46.1% 2,131

Only for the Greek Orthodox seat was there a third candidate with more than 13 votes; Georges Christoforeides who got 177 votes (0.47%).[16] There were 201 invalid ballots and 183 blank ballots.[16]

2017 Vote LawEdit

As per the new Vote Law adopted by parliament on June 16, 2017, the electoral districts of Beirut were reorganized. The old Beirut I district merged with the Medawar quartier (previously in Beirut II), the new district retaining the name 'Beirut I'.[17][18] The new Beirut I district received the two Armenian Orthodox seats of the former Beirut II district, whilst the Minorities seat was shifted from the Muslim-domonated Beirut III district to the new Beirut I district.[17][18]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e IFES. Electoral Districts in Lebanon Archived 2015-04-07 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Imad Salamey (15 October 2013). The Government and Politics of Lebanon. Routledge. pp. 74–75, 112–113. ISBN 978-1-135-01133-8.
  3. ^ Messerlian, Zaven. Armenian Participation in the Lebanese Legislative Elections 1934–2009. Beirut: Haigazian University Press, 2014. p. 445
  4. ^ a b c d e f g NOW Lebanon. Districts in depth: Beirut I
  5. ^ Messerlian, Zaven. Armenian Participation in the Lebanese Legislative Elections 1934–2009. Beirut: Haigazian University Press, 2014. p. 450
  6. ^ Messerlian, Zaven. Armenian Participation in the Lebanese Legislative Elections 1934–2009. Beirut: Haigazian University Press, 2014. p. 446
  7. ^ European Union Election Observation Mission to Lebanon. Final Report on the 7 June 2009 Parliamentary Elections
  8. ^ Messerlian, Zaven. Armenian Participation in the Lebanese Legislative Elections 1934–2009. Beirut: Haigazian University Press, 2014. p. 457
  9. ^ Messerlian, Zaven. Armenian Participation in the Lebanese Legislative Elections 1934–2009. Beirut: Haigazian University Press, 2014. p. 481
  10. ^ Messerlian, Zaven. Armenian Participation in the Lebanese Legislative Elections 1934–2009. Beirut: Haigazian University Press, 2014. p. 451-452
  11. ^ Messerlian, Zaven. Armenian Participation in the Lebanese Legislative Elections 1934–2009. Beirut: Haigazian University Press, 2014. p. 465
  12. ^ Messerlian, Zaven. Armenian Participation in the Lebanese Legislative Elections 1934–2009. Beirut: Haigazian University Press, 2014. p. 467
  13. ^ Messerlian, Zaven. Armenian Participation in the Lebanese Legislative Elections 1934–2009. Beirut: Haigazian University Press, 2014. pp. 469-470, 472-476
  14. ^ Messerlian, Zaven. Armenian Participation in the Lebanese Legislative Elections 1934–2009. Beirut: Haigazian University Press, 2014. p. 477
  15. ^ Messerlian, Zaven. Armenian Participation in the Lebanese Legislative Elections 1934–2009. Beirut: Haigazian University Press, 2014. p. 468
  16. ^ a b c d Ministry of Interior and Municipalities. Elections Result – Beirut I
  17. ^ a b GulfNews. Lebanon to hold parliamentary elections in May 2018
  18. ^ a b Daily Star. Analysts skeptical new vote law will lead to change