Updated Mar 25, 2018

A look at Lebanon's upcoming election

Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri attend a cabinet meeting. Photo: Muhammed Ali Akman / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Lebanon is having its first parliamentary election in almost 10 years on May 6.

The bigger picture: The U.S. had concerns that Iranian-backed Hezbollah would sweep the election. But Dr. Joseph Gebeily of the Lebanese Information Center tells Axios that there's "less anxiety" about a Hezbollah victory because of the group's waning popularity. Meanwhile, incumbent President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri run again after "a lot of disappointment" over the last year, Gebeily said.

Electricity and trash clean-up

These are two areas that have gone largely unattended to in Lebanon.

  • Gebeily told Axios there are no power or trash-processing plants being built in the country: "It's not clear why nothing is happening...this is a big failure of the government."
  • Currently, power is being provided by ships from Turkey, which overcharges. Hariri and Aoun back this method, but have been criticized of accepting payments from the company organizing the ships. Meanwhile, the ships are keeping the lights on.
  • "The fact that so far Hariri and Aoun are refusing to consider other options almost proves that theory," added Gebeily.
Out-of-country voting

This is the first time Lebanese expats will be allowed to vote.

  • But, but, but: Of about 2 million expats, only around 90,000 are registered to vote. In the U.S. alone, only 10,000 of half a million Lebanese registered.
  • Gebeily says this will still be interesting to watch, given that expats are "less subject to briberies," which are frequent from candidates.
The uncertainties
  • The Christian districts could be where the country sees "significant seats at play," Gebeily said: Christians are "split between Aoun and [Samir] Geagea," who heads the Lebanese Forces.
  • Hariri will be challenged more than usual. Gebeily said there are candidates registering to run against him, who used to run on his list, though it's expected he'll still be victorious.
  • Aoun is also facing a challenge, because he didn't achieve much in office. He's been asking voters for another chance, Gebeily told Axios, saying: "We promise we're going to do what you expect from us."

A State Department Spokesperson told Axios: “We look forward to free, fair, and transparent parliamentary elections in May...we stand firmly with the Lebanese people and Lebanon’s legitimate state institutions as Lebanon faces formidable challenges as well as threats in the region.”

Go deeper

Sign of the times: A pro-Warren super PAC

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Nevada. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of women progressives who back Sen. Elizabeth Warren has formed Persist PAC, a super PAC airing pro-Warren ads starting Wednesday in an effort to boost her performance ahead of Saturday's crucial Nevada caucuses, a spokesman told Axios.

Why it matters: Warren has spoken adamantly against the influence of unlimited spending and dark money in politics. But these supporters have concluded that before Warren can reform the system, she must win under the rules that exist — and that whether she likes it or not, their uncoordinated help may be needed to keep her viable through this weekend's contest and into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon policy chief resigns amid reported discord with Trump

John Rood. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

John Rood, the Pentagon's top policy official, will resign from his post at the end of the month, CNN first reported and President Trump confirmed.

The state of play: CNN said Rood "was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted," such as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban and a decision to cut back on military exercises with South Korea as the president courted North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Coronavirus cases rise, as warnings of global pandemic grow

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

We may be "at the brink" of a global pandemic, warns a top U.S. public health official, as cases continue to spread despite containment efforts. Meanwhile, the global economy is being affected, including the tech manufacturing industry.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,000 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 136 new deaths since Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health