A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Libyan Elections: A First Step

The election results in Libya are still trickling in, but on the whole, the news seems good. There was some violence; there continue to be confrontations among militias; and the future remains uncertain, but the overall verdict seems positive. Western analysts are tending to proclaim that the liberal bloc led by former interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril has trounced the Islamists, which may or may not prove to be true, especially since such black-and-white categorizations may have little validity in Libya, where local or tribal considerations may have more weight than the secular/Islamist dichotomy. And, of course, elections are just the first step; the country is a long way from united. But it is a potentially rich and prosperous place, if it can get its act together,

A few, in some ways quite varied, interpretations of the elections from Juan Cole ("Top Ten Surprises on Libya's Election Day,"); Paul Pillar ("Democratic Form without Substance in Libya"); and Daniel Serwer ("Benghazi Needs a Hug"). (Note: the last post has seemingly disappeared from the Foreign Policy site. If the link starts working I'll put it back.)

1 comment:

David Mack said...

The progress Libya has made in its democratic development over the past year and a half is quite impressive. This is especially true in light of the near total absence of political institutions and secular civil society at the end of the Qadhafi period. For purposes of comparison, the supposedly more advanced Iraqis are still struggling nine years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The recent elections in Libya were marred by relatively few cases of violence, and the turnout was high. Importantly, the Libyans own the results, which were not the product of a foreign occupation. While the final election results are still unknown and without minimizing the obstacles ahead, Libya is moving in a very positive direction. Along with others, I met with Mahmoud Jebril in Washington when he was PM of the interim Libyan government. I had also met with him in Tripoli during the period when he was head of the Economic Development Board. On both occasions, he impressed me as highly professional, well organized and decisive. Libyans can be proud of their accomplishments.