BEIRUT: The Interior Ministry announced Monday that it had received an accurate list of Lebanese expatriate voters who wanted to take part in upcoming parliamentary polls from all of its diplomatic missions.
The Central News Agency reported that the ministry had received data related to 10,201 expatriate voters from 49 missions, denying media reports that only 6,733 voters had been registered abroad. The ministry noted that the number had been lowered to 10,012 after a thorough examination of the lists of names.
The figures showed a surprisingly low number of voters had signed up to vote, especially in countries with large Lebanese expatriate communities.
The lists showed that the highest number of voters were registered in Australia, where the number reached 3,813, while in the United Arab Emirates the number of voters registered was only 536. In Brazil, home to one of the largest expatriate communities, the number of registered voters was 148. In Venezuela, 12 people registered to vote, two in Colombia, and 19 in Argentina. In the United States only 630 voters registered, compared with 91 voters in the United Kingdom and 1,057 in France.
In Africa, a small number of expatriates registered their names. Gabon registered nine voters, 92 registered in Congo, 18 in Ivory Coast, 92 in Guinea and 81 in Liberia. The low number of registered voters suggests that many Lebanese citizens are intending either to abstain from voting altogether, or to return to Lebanon to fulfill their national duty.
A once contentious issue, expatriate voting is one of the few success stories of electoral reform in Lebanon. The majority of draft laws that are currently being discussed include the right of Lebanese living abroad to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections. The low turnout for voter registration has sparked debate about the need to use limited resources for something that appears to enjoy minimal support abroad.