Libya’s first national elections in more than four decades, scheduled for 19 June, may be delayed for a few weeks. Although the Libyan electoral commission is yet to finalise the list of candidates and prepare the ballot papers, the delay is expected to be short. Holding elections in a country like Libya is no easy task and the electoral commission has done a good job so far. It has worked hard to such an extent that earlier talk of delaying the elections for three to four months seems unreal now. The Libyan people have clearly demonstrated their desire to move forward by registering in large numbers to vote in the coming elections. According to the electoral commission, roughly 80% of the eligible voters have registered. After living in a dictatorship for 42 years, democracy is something new for the Libyan people but they are keenly waiting for the day when they will be able to elect their own representatives and the thought of it is very empowering for them.
Libyans will be electing 200 members of an assembly to lead them formally into the next phase of the revolution, the rebuilding. The assembly’s main task will be to draft a new constitution. Not surprisingly, Libya has seen a surge of political activity, which is also very confusing. The number of registered political entities now exceeds 370 and candidates say all kind of things to entice the voters: liberal parties use religious punchlines while the religious parties try to present themselves as open and inclusive. Despite the efforts of the political parties to hold conference and media events, many Libyans are waiting for the electoral campaigns before they decide how to vote – so it is difficult at present to predict the outcome.