I expected a close election, at least markedly closer than the last election that was in the wake of the Hariri assassination. My thoughts about what this unexpected victory for March 14 means in the larger scheme haven't fully formed yet.
The battleground in this election was always going to be the Lebanese Christian community - which on a per-person basis is substantially over-represented in Lebanon's Parliament, but it was never expected that they would go for March 14 as opposed to March 8, the group containing Hezbollah, to the degree they did.
My explanation for March 14th's success in this election is effective political work as well as a flood of resources from, especially, Saudi Arabia. If there is an anti-Iranian alliance between the Saudis and Israel, this is a model of Saudi activity along those lines.
The Saudis have shown they are able and willing to devote a huge amount of resources to impact an election in the Muslim world. This may mean Fatah will have far greater resources in its next electoral competition with Hamas. It is also possible that comparable resources be devoted to getting a yes vote on a referendum. In either case, it is possible that Saudi interventions can effectively sway Arab electoral decisions.
On the other hand, Hezbollah, and its leader Nasrallah, who I still see as one of the best Arab politicians, will learn from this loss, regroup and run in future elections.
The structural disadvantage of the Shiites in the Lebanese electoral system is a problem that will still have to be addressed. Exacerbating the problem is that Israel and the US, for the same reasons they support dictatorships in Egypt and Jordan, favor the disenfranchisement of the Shiites in Lebanon and will consistently intervene to prevent a one-person/one-vote electoral system. Possibly US/Israeli interventions will have more active Saudi assistance than before.
The United States will now pressure pro-Western parties in Lebanon to form a cabinet in which there is no Shiite veto. It is unlikely that the Shiites will go along with this, which means there is a good chance Lebanon will revisit the crisis atmosphere of late 2007. A return to confrontation would hurt Lebanese people a lot more than it would hurt either Israel or the US, so hopefully March 14 will come to a peaceful accomodation.