Political observers view the election as highly competitive and unpredictable. Earlier this year, three-time Prime Minister Saad Hariri – the leader of the country’s largest Sunni Islamist parliamentary bloc – retired from politics, leaving Sunni votes up for grabs.
The Iranian-backed armed political group Hezbollah has also emerged as a hot topic in Lebanon’s elections. Several political groups have vowed to try to disarm the Shia party – which they say has dominated the political sphere – although it still enjoys widespread support among its constituents.
Hezbollah’s election rallies, where the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, called on people to vote en masse, drew thousands of supporters this week.
A Hezbollah-backed coalition — which includes other Shia and Christian allies — holds the majority of seats in the current parliament.
The small country in the eastern Mediterranean has had a confessional power-sharing system since its founding a century ago. Parliament is split equally between Muslims and Christians, with the premiership reserved for a Sunni Muslim, the presidency for a Maronite Christian and the speaker of parliament for a Shia Muslim.