The Libyan elections were free and peaceful – and did not lead to Islamist victory
Libya has gone off-script. This was supposed, by some, to be a simple story: naive liberals support Libyan revolution, Islamists hijack revolution. The end. Last year, the American Spectator warned that “it is becoming increasingly apparent that Islamism will be the dominant political force in the country”, with “ever more visible links to al-Qaeda”. John Bradley, writing in this country’s Spectator, wailed that “self-declared former al-Qaeda fighters and bands of tribal fanatics” had taken over Libya and “imposed sharia law on the once-secular country”.
So, how is that post-revolutionary Islamist wasteland shaping up today? Well, a coalition led by the Western-educated political scientist and former interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril appears to have won Libya’s first free elections in 60 years, sweeping aside its Islamist opponents. Even in their eastern stronghold of Darnah, the hardline Islamists were thumped. These elections garnered 62 per cent turnout. They were mostly peaceful, with fewer than 2 per cent of polling stations closed. According to one observer, they were “described as a big family wedding, with lots of loud celebration and tears of joy”. Even in those areas thought to be hostile to the revolution – such as Sirte, Colonel Gaddafi’s hometown – turnout was surprisingly robust. Continue reading