A list of candidates backed by former prime minister Saad al-Hariri’s Future Movement has won Beirut’s municipality elections, according to its leader.
Local media reported a decisive victory for the Beirutis List, headed by Jamal Itani, after his announcement based on initial results.
The victory for the Beirutis List would be a major setback for the Beirut Madinati grassroots campaign that had aimed to take on Lebanon’s paralysed political system and the ongoing so-called trash crisis.
Beirut has a 24-member municipal council.
The municipal elections that got under way on Sunday mark the first vote in Lebanon in six years.
Parliamentary elections that were due to be held in 2013 have been postponed twice due to political instability exacerbated by the Syrian conflict.
Elections are due to be held across the country for the next two weeks.
Turnout in Beirut on Sunday was around 20 percent, local media said.
Authorities are expected to announce later on Monday the official results of the elections in Beirut and two provinces in the Bekaa region.
In eastern Lebanon, Sheikh Naim Kassem, deputy leader of Hezbollah, said the Shia group’s candidates and allies won a vast majority of seats in areas in which they competed.
Hezbollah and its allies ran in 80 municipalities out of 143 where voting took place the previous day in the Bekaa Valley and won almost all the seats.
Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014, when the mandate of Michel Sleiman expired, because the country’s Christian, Sunni Muslim, Shia Muslim and Druze communities have not been able to agree on a candidate.
The country’s political scene is sharply polarised, with the government split roughly between a bloc led by Hezbollah and another headed by Hariri.
The rival blocs however banded together in Beirut to support the same list against Beirut Madinati.