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Lebanese Youth Activists and the May 2018 Elections: Lessons Learned for Future Engagement

As part of its broad research project “Arab Youth as Political Actors”, the Arab Reform Initiative organized on 27 October 2018 in Beirut a Policy Dialogue meeting that brought together over 20 youth representatives from new Lebanese political groups, including Beirut Madinati, Sabaa, and Libaladi, as well as the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) and other activists. These groups and activists represent a break from “politics as usual” in the Lebanese political scene: their candidates provide an alternative to the traditional political elites; they act as opposition to mainstream political parties; their platforms directly address issues such as corruption and gender equality; and they seek to break from the sectarian nature of the Lebanese political system. Yet, despite important campaigning efforts, these groups and activists had little success in the May 2018 parliamentary elections. The objective of the Policy Dialogue, which included a series of presentations by representatives from Libaladi, the SMART news agency, and Beirut Madinati, followed by a broader debate,  was to take stock collectively of what actions were achieved, what succeeded and what failed, and to draw lessons learned for future engagement – and in particular by youth - in Lebanon’s elections and formal political sphere.