One of the first big questions for Libya, then, is whether
Jibril can keep his large and ideologically diverse coalition together. The
most obvious way, though not the most democratic, would be patronage and
clientelism. This would not be liberal democracy that Libyans fought so hard
for, but as ideological splits show and maintaining the coalition gets more
difficult, it might be what Libyans get.
Islamist have expressed much disappointment at their poor showing
in the elections, and that disappointment will likely fuel a heated debate
within the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood. Brotherhood leader Mohamed Sawan has
already begun taking internal criticism. Still, Islamists may seek to recruit
or co-opt some of the many independent candidates who've won, so they may end
up more influential than they now appear.
Libyan politics, then, are still fragmented and fluid; it's
far too soon to declare victory for liberals or for anyone else. The political
landscape is in some ways like the security situation, which is primarily
enforced not by unified national army or police, but by a few dozen
independent, locally organized militias. Civil society leaders were able to organize
a recent meeting of the main political groups to find a common political
platform and roadmap for Libya's transitional government. This sort of political prenuptial agreement was to include Jibril; Mohammed Magarief, leader of the first historical opposition group, the National Salvation Front; Mohamed Sawan, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood; and Abdulhakim Belhaj, leader of the Al Watan Party. But the day before
the meeting was schedules, Jebril left Tripoli on what he said was a family
emergency and all the other leaders, upset at the perceived insult, withdrew.
With more incident like this one, personal rivalries and feuds
are playing a greater role in the political sphere. Libya's polity is facing
challenges that would be daunting enough if even if everyone got along: the
formation of a government, the reconstruction of the country, and determining
the rules for drafting the constitution itself, much less actually drafting it.
Yet the transitional leadership has been embroiled in a fight over which
governmental body will even be in charge of writing the constitution. With the
Libya struggling to resolve even these procedural matters, which are important
but less ideological charged than the looming debates over the actual contents
of the constitution, the newly elected government may have a harder time
establishing the post-Qaddafi era than many observers think.
Of course, holding elections was a major step in the right
direction for Libya, but the problems and the dangers on the path to democracy
are still many. Libyans amazed the world in coming together to fight Qaddafi,
but now that their common enemy is gone, they'll have to start working
together, and sometimes that can be even harder.