Lebanese by-election agonizingly close

BEIRUT — Well, in the words Dan Rather, the election in Metn is as tight “as the rusted lug nuts on a ’55 Ford.” Phalangeist Party officials say they won by a few hundred votes. The Free Patriotic Movement says *they* won by a few hundred votes. Both sides have claimed victory and both sides have said there were voting irregularities.
[Here’s a round up of the various stories from Google News.](http://news.google.com/?ncl=1118537831&hl=en) In general however, it looks like 43 percent of the voters came out in Metn, an astonishingly high number for an off-year election. (How many of those votes were Syrians naturalized as Lebanese and bused in from Damascus is unclear. But the voted for the Aounist candidate.) Today’s contest shaped up as a battle for the right to claim the leadership of the Christians in Lebanon. If Aoun loses, his chance of ever becoming president will be lower than a snake’s belly, channelling Rather again, because his appeal to the Shi’ite-led opposition was that he claimed to represent the Christians. If Amin Gemayel loses, it will be a huge blow for the pro-government forces. (Amin Gemayel is the father of Pierre and a former president. There is much public sympathy because he lost his son.)

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