Photo by MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/GettyImages
UPDATE: A liberal, pro-Western coalition appears to have a preliminary lead in Libya’s first election after the ouster of longtime dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi. If confirmed, it would mark a significant change of pace for Arab Spring countries that have seen Islamist parties dominate elections, points out the New York Times. The coalition’s founder, Mahmoud Jibril, is a former interim prime minister and a member of Libya’s most populous tribe.
A total of eighty seats in the 200-seat parliament are set aside for party lists, while the remaining 120 are for individual candidates, explains the Associated Press. That means even if Jabril’s party is the biggest winner, that won’t necessarily mean it will dominate the legislature. Still, his apparent success makes Jibril “perhaps the most important voice in the next stage of Libya’s political transition,” details the Times.
Saturday, July 7: Jubilation took over Libya Saturday as citizens carried out tentative steps toward democracy and voted in the first parliamentary elections since last year’s overthrow of dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi. It marked the country’s first free elections in 60 years. The last time there was a national vote in the country was 1965, but political parties were not allowed. The country’s first parliamentary elections took place in February 1952, shortly after independence, details the BBC.
Yet it wasn’t all happiness and celebration. The vote took place amid calls for boycotts, burning of ballots and attacks on polling stations in the country’s east, reports the Associated Press. There are more than 3,700 hopefuls for the 200-member assembly and candidates with Islamic agendas “dominate the field,” notes Reuters, pointing out that the candidate list suggests Libya will be the next country to see religious parties gain power following an “Arab Spring” uprising.
Full parliamentary elections will come next year under a new constitution, but, for now, following a two-week campaign where there was almost no discussion about policy, the “real contest” wasn’t really between the candidates but rather “over the credibility of the vote,” writes the New York Times.