As Lebanon prepares for its first parliamentary elections in nine years Sunday, 3.6 million registered Lebanese voters are expected to cast their ballots. Thousands of Lebanese expats voted last week.
Here are several key power-players that could influence the country’s direction for years to come.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri is the leader of the Lebanese Future Movement Party, founded in the 1990’s by his father, Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005.
Hariri, a Sunni Muslim politician, holds Saudi citizenship and is intensely critical of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group.
The Future Movement could be impacted by the new electoral law, which could fragment the Sunni vote and cost them key parliamentary seats.
Free Patriotic Movement
Founded by President Michel Aoun, this group has allied with Hezbollah since signing a memorandum of understanding in 2006.
The Free Patriotic Movement, which is mostly Maronite Catholic, currently has the second largest bloc in parliament.
The group is likely to gain significant support from Shi’ite Muslims who turn out.
This Shi’ite Muslim group was founded in 1982 as a resistance movement to the Israeli occupation of parts of Lebanon. They are backed by Iran and Syria.
Parliamentary candidates are likely to turn out a large number of Shi’ite Muslim voters, and some Christians who supports its record of fighting Israel.
Hezbollah currently holds 12 seats in the Lebanese parliament, and is expected to keep close to the same number, analysts say.
Amal, a Shi’ite Muslim group, was founded in the 1980’s by Imam Moussa al-Sadr, who went missing in Libya in the late 1970’s.
The group is led by Lebanon’s parliamentary speaker, Nabih Berri, who has held his position for 25 years.
Amal has a strong alliance with Syria, and runs jointly with other Lebanese Syrian-backed parties and Hezbollah.
Progressive Socialist Party
This group is the main political party of Lebanon’s Druze community, which makes up just 5 percent of the country’s population.
Druze politician Walid Jumblatt heads the group, and is stepping aside to make room for his son Taymour to take his seat.
The group has many candidates running in unity with the Future Movement and other Christian right-wing groups.
The Lebanese Forces group is a right-wing Christian political party that is a harsh critic of Hezbollah and its rival, the mostly-Christian Free Patriotic Movement.
Former Christian warlord Samir Geagea leads the group.
Lebanese Forces is one of the most organized and strongest Christian groups int eh country, and is expected to win several seats in the parliamentary elections.
The Civil Society includes many non-traditional, independent candidates that are hoping to garner the support of young people and Lebanese citizens who disapprove of the current political system.
Many women, activists and independents are running in these elections.
They may not garner much support in this election because of the strength of the establishment political parties, but many of them are just fine with sharing their platforms for a better Lebanon.