Lebanon Elections: high hopes in the Lebanese Diaspora

The Lebanese will be called to vote for a parliamentary election in one week (Sunday, May 15th). A vote for what has been defined as a crucial moment for the future of the Country. For the first time in the democratic history of the country, a large part of the Lebanese Diaspora is allowed to cast the ballot before that date.

By Marco Mattiussi
Expats residing in the Arab and GCC Countries voted Friday the 6th of May, while expats in the rest of the world will vote Sunday (May 8). One of the “engines” of the ex-pat vote is The Lebanese Diaspora Network (TLDN). A network of committed and patriotic volunteers.

One of them is Claudia Doueihi (34). A Lebanese-Australian who sacrificed a large part of the past six months of her career to voluntary help promote knowledge about these elections.

Doueihi, a Communication and Creative Strategist from Sydney (Australia), even decided to travel back to Lebanon from Australia for the elections a few weeks ago. She felt she had to be close to her Country in these essential and critical times.

Photo by Dania Tyan.

The Lebanese Diaspora is a community roughly estimated to be between 4 and 14 million people (including descendants of Lebanese origin). A number to be reduced to around 1 million if considered only those who hold Lebanese citizenship. Numbers that are, in any case, staggering, considering an estimate of 4.6 million Lebanese living in the country in 2020.

While in Sydney, Doueihi joined TLDN. One of many civil groups has sprouted worldwide to bring together the Lebanese living abroad. Often significantly differentiated among them, following the uprising that started in October 2019 (the so-called “Thawra” - for Revolution in Arabic), many of those organizations have, however, felt the need to make an effort and unify under one umbrella.

As Doueihi points out, the revolution has helped the young generation of expatriates - mainly those in their thirties - realize that they can do something for their beloved Country. And quite obviously, the 2022 elections represent an important milestone in the process.

Based on that, the TLDN has then committed to educating the Lebanese abroad about the elections. The first effort has been to help people register for the vote. A process that has also gone through a non-stop 48 hours online marathon, where members of the networks have alternated on the screens to guide the Lebanese voters through the process. This effort has produced excellent results, bringing more than 244.000 registered voters.

As a second step, they have created a map assessing each independent list presented to the elections, based on diversity, political background, readiness to make alliances, etc. This has a considerable value, considering that only the traditional parties are usually granted space in the mainstream media in Lebanon.

Doueihi is very firm in underlining that the TLDN has not endorsed any of these lists. Doueihi: “Our role is purely informative, letting voters decide based on that information. The most important thing is for people to go and vote. Not to abstain, and not to vote blank. “ Options that are unfortunately too frequently heard from the Lebanese when asked about voting.

One cannot but notice the passionate hope of this young expatriate for the future of her Country. “Old generations have failed. It is time they recognize it and leave space for the new generations to take action.”

In a Country where everybody talks about the need for change but where everything stays the same, hope is the last resort. Simply put, these young people want a Country to return to. A Country where to find a good job and decent living conditions. Where to be able to buy a house and create a family.

The feeling of many is that a genuine change can, at this point, only come from abroad from those people that realize daily in a foreign country that a better system is possible and they want to achieve it in their home country.

These days, the Diaspora is voting. The first data show an unusually high turnover. We want to believe that this is a first signal that the calls for a change are finally not just empty words but are turning into reality.

 

Marco Mattiussi

We are our choices" (Jean-Paul Sartre)
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