Aya Abou Saleh, a member of the Secular Club at Saint Joseph University of Beirut (USJ), promoted an independent candidate in her home district of Aley-Chouf who sought office as part of a campaign called “a Generation for Change.”
“Students are contributing to electoral campaigns in different ways,” Abou Saleh told al-Fanar Media last week, ahead of the vote. “Each in his or her region is promoting the independent candidates who are vying for change.” Students participated in activities like going door-to-door to distribute flyers and organising meetings where candidates could present their political visions, Abou Saleh said.
Students were also “very active on social media to spread awareness about the candidates and their programmes, especially among the young generation and would-be first-time voters,” she added.
Abou Saleh, who is 22, was herself a first-time voter on Sunday. Lebanon’s legal voting age is 21.
Karim Charafeddine, a 23-year-old economics graduate from the American University of Beirut, also voted for the first time on Sunday.
Charafeddine, who participates in the Mada Network, said Mada members “organised the campaigns of three electoral lists of independent candidates seeking to forge change and vote out the corrupt political class.”
He added: “Our political agenda is very clear: combating corruption, opposing militias such as Hezbollah and other sectarian parties, and advancing our vision of a new and sustainable Lebanon.”
Before the vote, Charafeddine campaigned for a former president of the Secular Club at USJ, Verena El Amil, who sought election in the Mount Lebanon-Metn district.
Though her bid was ultimately unsuccessful, El Amil, age 25, made headlines as the youngest candidate among more than 1,000 people seeking office, including 155 women.
‘Looking for Change’
Although he is not eligible to vote yet, 20-year-old Anhal Kozhaya, a political science and international affairs student at the Lebanese American University, was fully engaged in election activities.
“We are holding workshops to raise awareness about the electoral law, mostly among the youth who are going to vote for the first time,” Kozhaya, who is president of the university’s International Affairs Club, said last week. “We did tutorial videos that we uploaded on social media, because young voters have no clear idea about the law and how to vote.”