Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

The municipal elections in Libya start from focusing on the political margins of the crisis, They are not an attempt to build democracy as much as they are a reflection of the inability of international parties to agree on the Libyan situation.

The High Elections Commission announces the start of preparations for the municipal council elections. At a time when the Security Council is preparing to search for the appointment of a new head of the UN mission after the resignation of Abdullah Batili, in addition to what the Charge d’Affaires of the UN Mission, Stephanie Khoury, will present through her briefing on the Libyan situation, and despite the fact that the municipal elections do not greatly affect the political formation or even the contradictions. between the conflicting parties, but on the other hand, it constitutes a test of the ability of state institutions to deal with an event of this magnitude.

In practice, the electoral process has begun for sixty municipal councils out of 106, and it represents the first set of elections that will spread across various regions in Libya. It begins with the voter registration phase, which will continue until June 23, 2024, and aims to prepare electoral lists and prepare voters to participate in choosing their representatives in the councils. Municipality While the United Nations mission welcomed this step, encouraging all Libyans, especially women and youth, to register and actively participate in this democratic process, the indicators do not give any indication that the municipal elections will directly affect the general political situation in Libya. They provide an opportunity To promote civic engagement and improve local services.

Municipal councils…a preliminary vision:

In 2012, a new local administration law was passed, stipulating that municipal elections be held in all municipalities. The first elections began in late 2013 and continued until 2014. Although this mechanism can support public order in the country by enabling local communities to manage their resources, Consolidating a sustainable development process that later helps support the democratic process at the general political level. However, the Libyan local elections faced two basic issues:

  • The first is that local communities and their representatives in municipalities faced “de facto forces,” whether armed factions or even people indirectly associated with them. The primary influence of these councils within local communities was surrounded by a network of interests linked to the highest political decision-making centers, or even by the pressures they exerted. Armed groups on the ground.

The municipal elections were practically a reflection of all the balances resulting from the years of war, and they also represented the tribal situation in all Libyan regions, which prompted a radical amendment in the current elections that prevents the candidacy on the same list of the poor up to the fourth degree. In this case, the election organizers want better representation, but it remains. Here the higher influences are related to relationships within communities that are subject to different ties to the way elections are conducted.

  • Elections seem essential for strengthening local governance and popular participation in governance, as they establish a state of decentralization that can alleviate the contradictions between the political forces that led to the emergence of two governments in Tripoli and Benghazi. Strengthening local governance creates new paths at the popular level, and through this matter can establish democratic institutions.

Municipal councils do not have broad powers, especially at the level of the budget provided by the central government to municipalities, which reduces the impact of elections on the lives of citizens. Most of the powers are in the hands of the central government, and the ability of municipal councils to make independent decisions and implement effective development projects remains within the “umbrella” of division. Politically, or even in the area of ​​inability to hold presidential and legislative elections, each region is run by independent electoral committees and operates with different laws, and this division is reflected in the electoral process despite all the measures that try to make it a state that establishes a new Libyan future.

Different challenges

According to the approved election law, municipal councils in municipalities with a population of more than 250,000 people consist of nine seats, while councils in smaller municipalities consist of seven seats. The electoral system includes special conditions, including collecting voter numbers and submitting candidacy applications according to a new system based on residency. In the targeted municipality, the law aims to limit the influence of tribal and clan alliances that could control municipal councils. The law prohibits the existence of a kinship relationship between candidates on a single list up to the fourth degree.

But all the details do not start from a specific Libyan website. Although the elections are conducted according to local considerations, they are at the same time affected by the general international reality. The United States and the embassies of other countries welcomed the start of the voter registration process, considering that the municipal elections constitute a vital opportunity to prove the feasibility of the electoral infrastructure in the country. Libya. They also stressed the importance of elections as a means of promoting democracy and dealing with important local issues.

But the welcome does not express the depth of view of this event in relation to the regional and international situation affecting all Libyan balances. The countries neighboring Libya, such as Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia, have direct interests in the stability of Libya due to geographical proximity and economic and security interactions, and seek to strengthen candidates or blocs. Politically, even at the level of local elections, it considers them important cards in the mechanism of passing on its interests at the economic level or even influencing local communities in drawing multiple political options.

At the international level, the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States have prominent influences on the electoral process in Libya, whether through monitoring missions or technical and financial support to the High Electoral Commission. Russia also has a strong role, although different from other roles, through various and related development projects. directly with local communities. In addition, countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Turkey have strategic interests in Libya and support various parties in line with their own agendas, and these countries use a wide range of tools in a way that eliminates any hope for the democratic state that they speak of. As for the West in general, strengthening local allies distracts the political process and does not help in developing a path towards presidential or parliamentary elections.

The regional and international roles in the Libyan municipal elections are a special factor that affects how local policies are shaped. It often creates narrow interests that are incompatible with the sovereignty of the state and its ability to form a single framework for all citizens. The limited powers of local authorities also make elections a type of reorganization and administration. The success of the electoral process is a test of the distribution of local powers only because such elections do not constitute political power at the national level.

Written by Mazen Bilal

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