Politics & Economics

Municipal Elections In Libya Pave The Way For Wider Democratic Participation

North Africa

The municipal elections, which were recently held in several provinces in Libya, set a positive example of widespread democratic participation in the country.

The Central Committee for Municipal Elections in Libya has announced that it has closed the ballots in nine municipalities in the country’s western and southern regions.

While the results of the elections have not yet been released despite already being counted, the Committee announced that the voter turnout exceeded 40% in many of the municipalities, with the highest participation rate averaging at 54% in the municipality of Bint Bia. Furthermore, the Committee also stated that local and international monitoring groups did not record any violations during the process, marking this election a success.

The Committee confirmed that they would be holding elections in at least 33 more municipalities across the country before the month of Ramadan.

While the committee only has authority over some parts of the country due to the split between the east and west-based governments, the committee says that despite the postponement of the elections, they are attempting to find ways to resolve the crisis to encourage the democratic process in Libya.

The last time the municipal elections took place was over five years ago before the political crisis took place. As a result, over 90 municipalities throughout the country have exceeded their mandates.

According to the electoral system in Libya, municipalities that contain over 250,000 residents vote for nine members, with seven open to the public, one specifically reserved for women, and the remaining reserved for people with special needs. Municipalities with less than 250,000 residents vote for seven members, with five for the general public and one each for women and people with special needs.

While the quota does not adequately represent the society equally, the attempt to include women in the local government is an attempt to enforce the representation of women.

These elections, albeit being local, are a positive sign for the country, which has witnessed conflict since 2011. Civil society organisations have stressed that the ideals of democratic participation and national reconciliation must be encouraged throughout Libya for the country to regain normalcy soon while also mending the wounds of the conflict.

While talks regarding national elections still taking place amid the current political deadlock, the holding of the local elections and the turnout rate shows that the citizens in Libya want to participate in shaping their future by carrying out their democratic duties.