'Now We Have Hope': Citizen Views on Libya's Political Transition

Dec. 16, 2011, 9:59 p.m.

The National Democratic Institute released a report on 16 focus groups it held in Libya November 12-28, 2011. The focus groups included a total of 144 people from six cities from different regions of Libya. The report highlights discussions on the direction of the country, priorities and concerns during the transition to democracy, expectations for the future.  It also describes the participants' attitudes about democracy, political parties, governance, and elections.  Participants generally felt that the country was headed in the right direction, but acknowledged that developing a full-robust democracy would take time. Participants showed little knowledge about elections, political parties, or the development of a constitution.

The  overthrow of the despotic Gaddafi regime  offers Libyans  an unprecedented political opening in Libya and creates opportunities and challenges for a democratic transition. There is  widespread  enthusiasm for the transition and genuine hunger for democratic governance.  Specifically, focus group participants are excited by new freedoms and eager to participate in elections, influence government decision-making for the first time in their lives and to set precedents for transparent and accountable leadership. However, they have serious concerns over the chaotic security landscape, economic instability and whether the transition will bring about improvements to their daily lives and provide them with meaningful opportunities to participate in the country’s new political processes. Given the sacrifice and loss that participants experienced during the harrowing eight-month uprising, they are intensely invested in the success of the transition.

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