Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Libyan Elections: A historical note

Reading Libya: The Struggle for Survival, Geoff Simons' (at times very biased) historical account of Libya, I came across a passage about Libya's 1952 elections:

Political parties contended for power in the general election of February 1952, after which they were dissolved and banned. Two opposing tendencies had come into conflict: the Istiqlal [Independence] party under Salim al-Muntasser, linked to business and the British military administration; and Bashir Bey Sadawi's National Congress Party, leaning towards the Arab League. The Congress Party won all the seats in Tripoli, but lost in the rest of the country, a result that confounded its expectations and led to claims that the government had rigged the ballot. As soon as the results were announced Congress supporters invaded the government buildings, cut telephone wires, and blocked transport. The government arrested scores of demonstrators, banned the Congress Party, and banished Sadawi to Egypt. The fledgling multi-party politics of independent Libya had collapsed at the first test, and it was destined not to return: factions continued to operate on a clandestine basis but healthy political contention was at an end.

Hopefully history will not repeat itself, and the upcoming elections on July 7th will be the first step to a lively, but peaceful, representative political system.

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