Pro-West March 14 Coalition Wins in Surprise Victory over Hardline March 8 Coalition in Lebanese Parliamentary Elections

An American-backed alliance appeared to retain control of the Lebanese Parliament on Sunday in a hotly contested election that had been billed as a showdown between Tehran and Washington for influence in the Middle East.

Preliminary results reported on Lebanese television showed the alliance, known as the March 14 coalition, had managed to preserve its majority in Parliament. If those results are confirmed, they would represent a significant and

It was touted as an historic election, a vote to determine the future direction of Lebanon. But even with the winners declared, analysts say the June 7 ballot was far from decisive, and did little to alter the fundamental balance of power in the country. In the US, Lebanon's poll has been characterized as another contest in the battle for hearts and minds in the Middle East, and a victory for a new Washington administration over the hardliners in Tehran.

"It was the real deal: President Barack Obama defeated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran," wrote New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. "Neither man was on the ballot, but there's no question whose vision won here."