How Libyans Voted and Why
Unlike the general elections of 2012 less Libyans voted this time for Council House of Representatives, CoR, the new parliament is known. In 2012 Libyans were full of hope and optimism after the NATO-Qatari backed rebels toppled the long-time leader, the late Gaddafi. Democracy, stability, security, peace, and above freedom were the noble causes the majority of my countrymen were eager for. Yet it took only three years to see all that crumble and pile in a wreckage of a country that was.
No wonder this time only half of the eligible voters registered to cast their ballots this time compared to over three million in 2012. In fact little over half a million voted on June 25 elections.
Many polling stations particularly in Derna east of the country and Kufra to the southeast did not open for security reasons. Libya’s election commission said 15 seats, out of the 200 strong CoR, will remain vacant since elections could not be organized in some parts in the country while others have to be rescheduled. In Benghazi and after casting her vote the prominent female lawyer Salwa Bughaighis was killed after gunmen forced their way into her house. She was stabbed before shot in the head. She was well known critic of armed groups in Benghazi.Later on it emerged that her Egyptian housekeeper who was wounded in the attack was killed while under police protection. He was the only witness to her brutal murder.
It is important to understand why less Libyans have voted this time where the opposite was expected.
Earlier this year large section of Libyans lost their trust in the democratic process after being disappointed over and over again. The body they elected in 2012, General National Conference was paralyzed by infighting, busied itself with less urgent matter, corruption, and over stayed its mandate. In fact had it not been for huge popular demands that GNC should dissolve itself and call for new elections and hadit not been for the military operations launched by retired general
Khalifa Hafter, this week’s elections might not have taken place at all.
There is also among Libyans a strong sense of disillusionment with almost all political parties. Coupled with overwhelming disappointment with lack of progress the majority of Libyans did not see the point of voting for another transitional legislator many think will only be like its predecessor. Over all large sections of tribal and political elites belief that while elections are priority to claiming Libya from the brink of full civil war, national reconciliation is far more important. Only after reconciliations.
This is widely reflected in voting figures among Libyans abroad. Elections were conducted in 13 countries including Egypt and Tunisia where over one million Libyans live. Most of those people are anti-status quo while many others are considered as pro former regime. Out of tenthousandregistered voters only about less than four thousand actually casted their votes. A closer look at the figures from Tunisia for example reveals only 114 out of about four hundred registered voters actually casted their ballots. In Egypt it is even worse as only 400 people voted while the registered voters were about 1000.
I among other analysis think the Libyan diaspora given its size, quality of people, and the experiences of its members are the most qualified to manage the country. However many of those people are barred from running for office for two main reasons: security and disqualified under the notorious Political Isolation Law passed by GNC under militia pressure aimed at purging the state from former regimeofficials.
Given the anti Islamist party atmosphere in the country, and the relatively high support Operation Dignity mastered I expected overwhelming turnout. However this was not the case. Deception is wide spread especially by Islamic leaning sympathizers. A friend of mine just before the elections told me "when you look at the candidates’ advertisements every candidate is anti Islamist agenda but after the vote even women turn out to be bearded." If anything this simple statement shows how confused electorates how little trust they have in the majority of candidates.
According to official figures little more than half a million people casted their votes meaning that only 50 present of eligible registered voters bothered to go to the polling stations. This is only one third of the eligible Libyan voters.
In any case while full results have yet to come forward I am afraid my country has just missed another opportunity to move forward. Mustafa Fetouri is a Libyan analyst at IHS Global Insight, an author and a freelance journalist.