One key element to democratic government is credible elections. Major world powers and international organizations acts as if they’re the ones who decide if an election is credible. But, of course, that’s a mistake typical of both groups. The only ones who can make an election credible are the citizens, the voters.
In well-functioning democracies, popular credibility is a prerequisite for an election. Voters must be confident — before Election Day — in the processes of the vote, the accuracy of the count, and that the government being elected will bring legitimate authority to its area of jurisdiction. In Libya, elections are being held to legitimize the authority of a government and unify a fractured nation before any credibility has been earned.
This leap of faith being sold to the Libyan people got harder two days before the scheduled December 24 Election Day, the vote was postponed, ostensibly for one month. How “disputes over the eligibility of the major candidates and over the electoral law” are resolved will go some way towards make last month’s impossible elections acceptable this month is still unknown.
And how the eventual “democratically-elected” government will deal with Libyan reality, how it will earn popular commitment to itself, much less to a unified Libyan nation is all but unknowable.
Say this, an overwhelming majority of Libyan voters want to believe. In a nation of seven million citizens, three million eligible voters, 2.4 million have signed voter cards. And they do have choices. At one time 98 people were running for president.
Mustafa Fetouri is a Libyan academic and freelance journalist. He is a recipient of the EU’s Freedom of the Press prize. He is a regular contributor to the online news platforms The Middle East Monitor and Al-Monitor.