The Significance of Libya’s Results
Hearts and Minds
Following a number of delays and recounts, the National Election Commission announced that the National Forces Alliance party has won 39 of the 80 seats reserved for political parties in Libya’s 200 member General National Assembly. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliated party, the Justice and Construction party, won 17 seats, less than half of the secular party. Interestingly, even more conservative Muslim parties had a more difficult time securing votes from conservative Libyans. The al-Wattan party for instance failed to win a single seat.
The significant victory of the National Forces Alliance party has been attributed to its leadership. Headed by the former leader of Libya’s first interim government, Mahmoud Jibril, many Libyans have come to associate the party with the type of change that led to the revolution in the first place. In addition, Jibril’s former experience as a member of Libya’s economic development board has helped brand the party as a source of knowledge regarding the types of economic reforms the country will need to implement in its efforts to reconstruct the post-war economy.
Indeed, Jibril’s party has declared its intention to attract foreign direct investment to Libya, and believes it is a priority to improve the country’s infrastructure. Importantly, the NFA has also been vocal about the social policies it will implement as a means to address some of the lingering development issues the country faces in its transition. For instance, the NFA has suggested it would like to create a minimum wage and expand the country’s social security system.
It is important to note however that while most Libyans voted for the NFA, this by no means suggests that Islam will not play an important role in the policies of a future government. For one, the NFA itself believes that Sharia should be the main legislation in the country, and it has not described itself as a secular party.
Moreover, the make-up of the General Assembly has not yet been confirmed. Though it is known that the NFA has won the majority of the 80 party seats, a further 120 seats are reserved for candidates who ran as individuals. According to a recent article in The Guardian, some of these individuals may declare themselves for one of the parties when Parliament meets in August. Such a move could reorient the policy inclinations of the general assembly towards more religious values. Nevertheless, it has been noted hat the majority of the individual candidates are representative of Libya’s numerous tribal and ethnic minorities. As such it is unlikely they will favor being engulfed in a party that already represents the interests of majority groups in the country.