Elections in Libya: the first step towards the forming of a democracy

Last Saturday, for the first time since 1964, about 3 million Libyans have been called to vote for the election of the Constituent Assembly. However, elections have not taken place in all regions of the Country since the Electoral Commission had requested the closure of 101 polling stations due to sabotage or security problems, while the elections were held regularly in 1453 remaining polling stations. The participation rate was relatively high: over 60% of eligible voters went to vote, therefore more than 1,7 million Libyans. According to the European Union evaluation team, the elections in Libya were “pluralistic, efficiently managed and generally peaceful”, although demonstrators, some of them armed, attacked polling stations in eastern the Country. The only negative note was the absence of equality between men and women. Indeed, although the law provides for the full participation of women in the electoral process, the cultural and religious traditions seem to have compromised their ability to fight as candidates on the same level as men.

The 200 elected members form the General National Congress (G.N.C.), the main legislative body, will replace the National Transitional Council (N.T.C.), who heads the Country since February 2011. The G.N.C. will consist of 100 elected members of Tripolitania, 60 of Cyrenaica and 40 of Fezzan: its main task will be to appoint the government and the Prime Minister. The Constituent Assembly, which would draft a new national constitution, will be elected by the Libyan people within four months. Initially the G.N.C. had received the task to appoint the 60 members of the Constituent Assembly, but the N.T.C. has recently adopted a law stating that members of the Constituent Assembly will be elected directly by the people.

During the week preceding the election, the electoral campaign has mainly pitted by the moderate component, called the Alliance of National Forces led by former Prime Minister of N.T.C. Mahmoud Jibril, and the so-called “Islamic” one, including the Party of Justice and Construction, derived from the Muslim Brotherhood, and al-Watan. Although final results have not yet been disclosed, a victory of the moderate component appears almost certain: the partial results provided by the Electoral Commission seem to confirm, at least in the first districts in the West, the victory of the Alliance of National Forces on the Islamic coalition. However, although the Country has received praise by the international community for the conduct of elections, some international observers have widely criticized the attitude of the Libyan Electoral Commission because it has not apparently provided the opportunity for everyone to vote: in fact, proclaiming a two days national holiday at the moment of the elections, part of the Libyan people believed that they could also vote on Sunday and, therefore, voters would have been much more if there had been a better diffusion of information.

Awaiting the official election results, one can say that finally the “new” Libya is born. Meanwhile, it seems there are already ongoing discussions between Jibril and representatives of Islamic parties to form a coalition government: the former Libyan Prime Minister urged all political parties to conduct a national dialogue, because what is most important now is to make Libya a united Country.



Université de Messine