News outlets, including the Libya Herald, have been circulating wrong data about the number of candidates registered for the upcoming . . .[restrict]national congress elections. Most reports agree on the number of individual candidates. The mixup is on the number of candidates on party lists, which is incorrectly reported to be 310.
In fact, the number 310 applies to lists of candidates submitted, not the number of candidates on those lists. It would not make sense that only 310 candidates would be contesting 80 seats. The odds would be unexpectedly high, about 25%. The source of confusion is the esteemed Elections Commission, which published conflicting information on its website, reporting the wrong number in a statement attributed to its president, and simultaneously publishing other, more reasonable numbers on the same site. The following was their reasonable information as of Thursday, 17 May 2012:
Individual Candidates: 2,476
Political Entities: 137
List Candidates: 1,049
Note that the ratio of candidates to seats is higher in the national elections than in the local elections of Misrata and Benghazi. There are about 21 candidates per individual seat, vs. 13 for a party seat; but there were fewer than 10 candidates per seat in Misrata and Benghazi elections. The national numbers are still subject to screening, but the demand for national representation is likely to come out a lot stronger. The national elections themselves might also prove to be more fiercely contested.
Party size and productivity are also worth noting. There are 137 parties but only 310 lists. A lot of parties are operating locally, not contesting seats on a national scale. There are 20 sub-districts that have list seats. If every party submitted a list for every sub-district, there would be more than 2,000 lists. Instead, we have 310, which implies the average party submitted about two lists, covering about 10% of the field.
Of course, these are just average trends, and it would be interesting to see the distribution. I doubt very much that many parties had wide coverage, but it would be good to know who did. The sharp localization of activities, however, makes most of them appear more like narrow-interest groups than political parties.
Suliman A. Dregia,
Westerville, Ohio [/restrict]