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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

3 hours ago - World

U.S. and NATO answer Putin in writing while bracing for Ukraine invasion

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty

The U.S. and NATO provided Russia with written proposals on Wednesday to advance a "diplomatic path forward," even as they warned that Russia could invade Ukraine within days.

Why it matters: This is a delicate diplomatic balancing act. The U.S. and NATO want to show they're serious about diplomacy but unwilling to compromise on "core principles" — all without providing Vladimir Putin with an additional pretext for escalation.

The political leanings of the Supreme Court justices

Data: Martin-Quinn scores; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Supreme Court will continue to have a solid conservative majority even with Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement.

How to read the chart: An analysis by political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn, known as the Martin-Quinn Score, places judges on an ideological spectrum. A lower score indicates a more liberal justice, whereas a higher score indicates a more conservative justice.

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.