It’s nearing ten o’clock in the evening here in Beirut and the din of car horns has not yet abated. The occasion? Why, democracy of course.
The American University of Beirut held its student elections today. Early this morning, Bliss Street was a sea of sartorial officialdom: the grey urban camouflage of the ISF, the green fatigues of the Lebanese Army, and the navy blue of riot police troopers. A huge fire engine with a water cannon was parked in front of Hardee’s Gate, and signs were posted at all the entrances informing passers-by that only current AUB students would be allowed on campus today.
As of this moment, no official results have been announced. I went down to Bliss a short while ago to walk around and get the word. After snapping some pictures of rowdy revelers hanging out of their cars, waving enormous blue flags and wearing the fluorescent yellow traffic vests of the March 14-aligned “Students At Work” party, I evidently got a bit too close to the Humvees parked near Main Gate. A soldier stopped me and asked to see the pictures I had taken. He asked me to delete a photo with soldiers in it, and then courteously suggested that I leave the area. Point taken.
The FPM blog is reporting the following results: 42 seats to March 14; 39 to March 8; 27 independents. Some are focusing on the fact that these numbers show significant gains by the opposition compared to last year, while others point to the fact that March 8 won more faculties than March 14, despite not winning as many seats. Of course, both sides are claiming that the independents will swing their way. Meanwhile, the elections at the Lebanese American University show a more decisive win for the loyalists (10-2 in Beirut, 8-4 in Jbeil) according to the FPM blog.
At this point, I, like Sean, could kind of care less about who wins and loses… I just want a pair of ear plugs.