One year after the election of Libya’s General National Congress (GNC), citizens there are expressing increasing frustration about the country’s persistent insecurity and want leaders to address that issue, according to a new public opinion study conducted by NDI. The study reveals a widespread belief that a proliferation of weapons, lack of security, partisanship and corruption are holding back Libya’s political transition.
In 16 focus groups conducted June 24 - July 15, the Institute examined the opinions of a broad cross-section of Libyans in six cities. As the focus groups were held, Libya’s political leaders were debating how to structure elections for a 60-member constitution-drafting assembly (CDA), including the regional distribution of seats and provisions to ensure the representation of women and ethnic minorities. The research took place roughly two months after the GNC’s passage of a Political Isolation Law, a measure designed to bar a wide range of former Gaddafi regime officials from holding public office or leading political parties. These political developments occurred amid mounting insecurity, including targeted assassinations in Benghazi and clashes among militias in Tripoli, Benghazi and Sabha.
NDI’s research was designed to capture citizen sentiment about the political landscape and expectations as Libya’s leaders prepare for the CDA election. Key findings from the study include:
- In contrast to earlier public opinion research, most citizens now say that Libya is heading in the wrong direction.
- Libyans blame the government for continued insecurity and express a desire for the state to exert its authority and address the issue.
- Libyans generally support banning Gaddafi-regime members from participation in politics - including holding office - but support exemptions on a case-by-case basis rather than an absolute ban.
- Libyans increasingly view partisanship as contributing to insecurity and a reason to be skeptical about Libya’s political parties.
- While Libyans voiced concern about parties running partisan campaigns in the CDA elections, they generally support political party members running.
- Libyans generally express support for constitutional provisions to protect the rights of women and ethnic minorities, although some feel that such provisions are unnecessary if the constitution provides for equality for all Libyans.
- Libyans continue to distrust any political manipulation of Islam and express concern that a constitution based solely on Shari’a (Islamic law) would allow Islamic values to be manipulated for political ends.
The findings provide Libyan leaders in political parties, civil society organizations and the government with timely, relevant information on public opinion that can inform policies and make them more responsive to citizens’ interests and needs. The results of this study can be evaluated in comparison with NDI’s qualitative public opinion research conducted in Libya in December 2012 and a quantitative public opinion survey from April 2013.
Production of this report was made possible through funding from the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).
- Download the focus group report»
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Published Nov. 5, 2013