The talk of elections being postponed for a few weeks is doing rounds again but the response from . . .[restrict]the common man is not of surprise or anger but of wait — the wait to hear the new date of the elections, if there is one, and get ready for the upcoming storm of political activity.
A minor delay seems possible as there are certain things that elections commission has not yet finished like finalizing the voters’ and candidates’ lists and the distribution of electoral material.
The election commission has so far done a good job by registering roughly 80 percent of eligible voters and that too within only four months of its formation and just eight months after the fighting stopped, which itself shows the willingness of the Libyan people to move on.
The job of the commission is not easy, especially with all the warranted and unwarranted criticism and yet they didn’t let the Libyan people down and so far successfully achieved the targets set by them.
The commission has worked hard, so much so that the talk only a few months ago of delaying the elections for three to four months seems unreal now. That being the case, the reality is that people are probably willing to wait for additional few weeks to be part of something historic: the first ever elections in over four decades! But only for a few weeks and only if a postponed date is announced.
The political parties were expecting the delay from the very beginning but they were taken by surprise with the progress made by the electoral commission. The parties had no other option but to manage their campaign within the given time. The candidates will certainly find the brief delay useful as it will give them a little more time to campaign and improve their vote bank.
After the announcement of the electoral commission earlier this year, Libya has seen a surge in the political events. With more than 350 political entities taking part in the upcoming elections, it is hard to differentiate between them. People are likely to get confused as the General Congress hopefuls are trying all they can to entice the voters. With the liberals using the religious punch lines and the religious parties trying to emerge as open and inclusive parties, the confusion will only increase in the coming days.
There was no political culture in Libya for over four decades but the people and the political parties are trying hard to get accustomed to the new democratic culture. The very thought of being able to select your own representative is empowering for the Libyan people but the main concern is how can they make an informed decision.
Despite all the efforts by the political parties to spread information about themselves, the common man still feels stranded and is optimistically hoping that there will be enough information available on the different parties and candidates before the voting begins and that he’ll be able to make the right decision.
The different political parties are holding regular press events to try and get as much attention as possible but there is hardly any information on the street. The important question that every man asks on hearing about such events is the same: How is this party different from the other? Much to the annoyance of many, there is little or no difference at all. The lack of political experience in Libya is mainly responsible for the different parties having an almost identical agenda.
With the date of the elections fast approaching, parties have doubled their efforts to register new members in order to improve their vote bank. The branch offices are holding regular workshops and conferences even in remote areas to raise the level of awareness about their respective parties. Different leaders are visiting the big cities and towns across Libya before the electoral campaign starts formally, hoping to keep the common man involved in the whole process.
With the way things are progressing, all the candidates are likely to be have enough time for their campaigns so that people will be able to make an informed decision. It will be during the campaign time when a clearer political scenario will emerge and the predictions about the future of Libya will start to become more realistic.
The future of Libya will be in the hands of 200 people elected into the national congress by the Libyan people. As per the initial trends, the four parties that are tipped to do well in the upcoming elections include both liberal and conservative parties like the National Front, the Justice and Construction Party, Nation Party and the National Forces Alliance.
The important factor that will determine the success of the parties will be their vision for the future but the parties with a history of opposition to Qaddafi, like the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (now, more simply, the National Front) and Muslim Brotherhood, will have an edge over the other parties in terms of organization and popularity.
Delayed or not, people are waiting for the elections with bated breath and considering the progress made so far it is very likely that they will choose the best of the lot to lead them formally into the next phase of the revolution, the rebuilding.
Umar Khan can be found at twitter.com/umarnkhan