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 Muslim parliamentary bloc – quit politics, leaving the Sunni vote up for grabs.
The Iranian-backed armed political group, Hezbollah, has also become 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 – despite still enjoying broad support among its constituents.
Hezbollah’s election rallies – where the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has urged people to vote en masse – have drawn thousands of supporters this week.
A Hezbollah-backed coalition – which includes other Shiite and Christian allies – holds the majority of seats in the current parliament.
The tiny eastern Mediterranean country has had a sectarian power-sharing system since its founding a century ago. The parliament is divided equally between Muslims and Christians, with the post of prime minister reserved for a Sunni Muslim, the presidency for a Maronite Christian and its speaker of parliament for a Shia Muslim.