Islamists Suffer Major Defeat in Libya's Early Election Results

Partial results from the Libyan parliamentary elections show that Islamists may have suffered their biggest setback yet in the Arab Spring. The success of the Alliance of National Forces, a coalition of secular and liberal movements led by Mahmoud Jibril, has been attributed by some to “brainwashing” by the late Muammar Gaddafi.

al-monitor Mahmoud Jibril, head of the National Forces Alliance, looks on before holding a news conference at his headquarters in Tripoli July 8, 2012.  Photo by REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra.

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secularists, results, preliminary results, moammar gadhafi, libyan revolution, libyan elections, islamists, abd-al-hakim belhadj

Jul 10, 2012

The partial election results for Libyas General National Congress (GNC) announced Monday [July 9] were no different than the preliminary results leaked on Sunday, which showed that an alliance of secular and liberal movements has handed the Islamists a major defeat. Out of all of the countries that witnessed the so called Arab Spring revolutions, Libya has turned out to be the setting for a major setback for the Islamists. Libya has now joined Algeria in going against the wave that put the Islamists in power in the Maghreb region, from Egypt to Morocco to Tunisia.

The partial results, which were announced by the electoral commission, showed that the Alliance of National Forces (ANF) led by the prime minister of the Libyan National Council Dr. Mahmoud Jibril has achieved what might be called a “sweep” over its rivals in a number of districts, especially in the capital of Tripoli. These results are remarkable. In the upper class Janzour district, west of the capital where many foreign indices are located, the Jibril alliance received 26,400 votes, whereby its closest rival — the Justice and Construction Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya — received only 2,400 votes. The National Party led by the former leader of the Tripoli military counsel Abdel Hakim Belhaj received only 617 votes.

The ANF achieved similar results outside of Tripoli. It received 19,000 votes in the town of Zliten, located between Misrata and Tripoli, whereas the Muslim Brotherhood received only 5,600 votes. The National Party received only 2,000 votes. In Misrata, the third largest Libyan city after Tripoli and Benghazi, the local Unity for the Nation party received more than 20,000 votes, followed by the Muslim Brotherhood with 17,000 votes. Here, the ANF won 11,000 votes, the Jibril alliance 6,000 votes.

On Monday, Chief Election Commissioner Nuri al-Aabbar announced only the partial results for the party lists in these areas, in addition to some results for the individual lists. Party lists are competing for 80 of the 200 seats in the National Congress, with the remaining 120 seats going to individuals. These individual seats are being contested by “independents,” but the competing political parties have placed affiliated candidates on the individual lists. This was confirmed by the Justice and Construction Party (the political arm of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood) when they released a statement on their website commenting on information indicating that they had a poor showing in the election results.

The Justice and Construction Party, which is led by Mohammed Sawan, a former detainee of the Abu Salim prison, said that the results announced so far were “partial,” and were as expected. However, he added that he hoped the candidates affiliated with him and running on the individual lists will have a showing strong enough to give him considerable push for the next National Congress, even if he is defeated in the party lists.

Jibril has pre-empted his coalition’s victory announcement by saying that he is reaching out to his competitors and invites them all to cooperate in order to build the future of their country. He said that Libya is the real victor in the first elections after decades of dictatorship under the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

If Jibril’s victory extends to the remaining districts, all eyes will be on how he will deal with his many opponents. Some of them had run a harsh campaign against him last year, which led to his departure from the transitional government. The attacks against him were repeated during the elections, especially from prominent figures in the Islamist movement who questioned his commitment to apply Shariah law. Among these people was Libya’s mufti, Sheikh al-Ghariani, who issued a religious edict that prohibited the voting of anyone who separates state and religion or says that the state has no religion. This edict was made in reference to the Jibril alliance.

Some say that the Libyan Islamists’ poor showing in the elections was the result of decades of “brainwashing” by Gaddafi against Libyan Islamist parties. Other say that many Libyans voted against Islamist parties because the latter made “deals” with Gaddafi during his reign, among them the Muslim Brotherhood and the Fighting Group.

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