According to the preliminary results from Lebanon's election, Hezbollah and its political partners are expected to win more than half of the seats in the Lebanese parliament.

No polling extension was decided, but in some areas, large numbers of people were still queuing up to vote when the clock struck 7:00 p.m. (16:00 GMT).

There is a record number of women and non-party candidates running in the elections, even though the lion's share of seats is expected to be gained by representatives of the six main political parties.

Observers said before the election that the country's youth is tired of a political elite laden with charges of corruption that has left voters with no viable alternatives, coupled with a new proportional voting system that has confused some of the Lebanese electorate.

Samir Geagea, the Lebanese Forces leader, said the results showed there was a "popular ground" that backs March 14 and would "give us strength and a push to fix the path much more than we were able to in the past years". "Voting operations were very slow".

"Hezbollah is ruining our relations with regional countries" - a reference to Hezbollah's military intervention in Yemen, Iraq and Syria that has led several oil-rich Gulf states to join the United States in naming it as a terrorist organization.

"This is a new law and voters were not familiar with it, nor were the heads of polling stations", said Machnouk in a news conference on Sunday.

Ahmad Hariri, the secretary-general of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Future Movement, called on voters to protect "all of Lebanon".

More than 500 candidates are participating in Sunday's parliamentary elections in Lebanon, where voters will decide on the future of all 128 seats in the country's legislature.

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A Lebanese man showcases his ink-stained thumb after casting his vote in the first Lebanese parliamentary election in nine years, in the coastal city of Byblos, north of the capital Beirut.

The next parties are President Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's Amal Movement and the Hezbollah resistance movement.

Lebanon has long had a power-sharing political system between the different religious denominations.

Some voters also said that the sometimes absurd web of local electioneering alliances that saw some parties work together in one district and compete in others had put them off.

Despite the big hopes built around the participation of the civil society in the upcoming elections, many Lebanese people still find themselves mired in the sectarian strife gripping the country, as it is most likely that they will have to wait for another four years to see any change in the parliament.

Two women, television journalist Paula Yacoubian and author Joumana Haddad, looked poised to secure a seat from which they have pledged to challenge political dynasties they condemn as corrupt.

Current Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri caused a significant political crisis in November, when he fled the country to Saudi Arabia, announcing his resignation in a televised address in which he said he feared an assassination attempt.

It's especially galling for Lebanese concerned that a still-dominant Hezbollah could drag the country into a looming Iran-Israel regional confrontation. Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shia group, is the most powerful bloc in the election.


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