When Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year autocratic rule came to an end in 2011, Libya turned its eye towards a new form of government, one in which the Libyan people’s interests would be represented under democratic principles. After decades of a government-enforced ban, political parties are emerging across Libya, giving Libyans the opportunity to organize their political beliefs under a collective banner. As a relatively young institution, Libya’s political party system is widely fractured, resulting in numerous and overlapping political persuasions that lack the know-how to form policies or develop effective party structures. Moreover, public trust in political parties has been low since their inception in 2011, leading voters to flock to cults-of-personality rather than a party that espouses a set of political ideologies. Even though Libya's political future remains uncertain, Libya’s political parties are attempting to gain momentum to participate in Libya’s future political and electoral processes.
Understanding the importance of political parties in strong, democratic systems, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has continued to support Libyan political parties through specialized consultations and workshops, with the goal to build the capacity of parties to develop policy platforms and represent the interests of their constituents, meanwhile increasing trust with the Libyan people. In March 2022, 19 political parties signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with NDI, commencing a fruitful relationship designed to build skills, increase transparency and empower political leadership amongst all party members.
As part of this commitment to Libya’s political parties, NDI started its Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) in November 2021 for youth wings of political parties interested in developing leadership skills and becoming better positioned to partake in decision making processes. Across four modules ending in September 2022, YLA participants learned about political leadership, policy development and political communication, in addition to community outreach, debate skills and transfer-of-knowledge capabilities in order to pass on these abilities to other party members.
During the fourth and final module of the YLA, NDI conducted a training of trainers workshop, providing participants with the essential tools and methodology to implement training for members of their respective parties. The four-day workshop covered a variety of topics, such as program design, developmental psychology and principles of adult learning, giving participants opportunities to engage in real-life scenarios through role playing, group work, and partner interviews. In addition to this, participants learned how to create advertising videos for training sessions to be shared on social media platforms – a key way to sustain a multiplier effect.
At the end of the YLA program, participants showed significant personal and professional growth, noting that they had been pushed outside of their comfort zones by engaging with other participants in dynamic ways and developed new skills, such as political communication and teaching strategies. As each module brought together members of different political parties, inter party dialogue flourished amongst participants, with participants mentioning greater respect and understanding from group exercises.
With the aim of knowledge transfer and sustainability within parties, the YLA has enabled participating youth wings to become greater leaders within their respective parties by being knowledgeable and active members. As the YLA is one critical area of NDI’s support to political parties, NDI plans on expanding its technical assistance in the coming year to further ensure that Libya’s political parties gain the necessary skills to successfully partake in Libya’s democratic transition.
NDI's engagement in Libya is implemented with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS).
Author: Christiana Haynes is a Program Officer with the Middle East and North Africa team at NDI.
NDI is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that works in partnership around the world to strengthen and safeguard democratic institutions, processes, norms and values to secure a better quality of life for all. NDI envisions a world where democracy and freedom prevail, with dignity for all.