Prospects for the Future of Liberal Democracy in Libya

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Following the death of the infamous former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi former Libyan leader, a lot of debates and concerns have been raised worldwide about the future of the nation. A range of issues from social, economic, religious and political are being raised and the big question seems to be, what next? After years of authoritarian rule and with the ‘enemy’ finally out of the picture, the Libyan government faces different prospects for its development and in this essay I will be looking at different possibilities for the nation in relation to the promotion of liberal democracy. Currently under a transitional government, Libya stands the chance to embrace change and adopt what may be considered by some as positive western ideals. According to a Freedom house report “another country that endured decades of brutal misrule, Libya, now has the potential for significant gains thanks to the overthrow of al-Qadhafi.” (Puddington, 2012) Democracy has at no other time in history been knocking at the doors of many political regimes and with voices calling not only from foreigners but also from indigenous citizens it would be very hard to ignore the relevance that democracy plays in our modern day society. Over the past year especially, the world has witnessed many political resistance campaigns; what is now popularly referred to as the Arab Spring has flooded the news very often and one common outcry from these people is the need for change. One might wonder what fuelled this uprising from the people to demand new leadership, in my educate d opinion, decades of authoritarian rule, human rights abuses, oppression on opposition and the inability of people to speak freely amongst others have all led to this desire for change. Before delving into the prospects for democracy in Libya, I feel it will be essential to underline what democracy entails. Robert Dahl in his book ‘On democracy’ lists various desirable features of a democratic society as follows: •Control of military and police by elected officials.

Democratic beliefs and political culture
No strong foreign control hostile to democracy
A modern market economy and society
Weak subcultural pluralism
(Dahl, 2005)
Based on this it is fair to say that liberal democracy demands the inclusion of people, it believes in equality and fairness and encourages the notion of two (or many) heads being better than one. However it is also true that democracy is not the only route for stability, in reality “the highest risk of political crisis lies in the middle ground between authoritarianism and democracy” (Goldstone, 2005) I believe a democratic and representative government can be attainable in Libya despite being broken into various sects for close to fifty years. Both pro and anti Qaddafi forces can push Libya forward but as to whether this will mature fully into a liberal democracy is tricky. The prospects for Libya would look bleak especially when considered from the perspective of historical precedents. In the Libyan case, several factors cement this view. To begin with, Libya is a society filled with many different tribes. From what might be considered extreme Islamists, to the more moderate ones, to the presence of Christians and then other religious and secular divisions the presence of diversity in terms of culture or beliefs could either hinder or promote liberal democracy. In other parts of the continent, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, this situation has been witnessed before but “among the most important lessons to emerge is the importance of avoiding factionalism.” (Goldstone, 2005) Take Rwanda for example, where Hutu’s and Tutsi rebels have shed blood over conflicting tribalistic views. In places where there is a vast difference in opinions, quite often people tend to disagree rather than agree and in order for democracy to prevail it is mandatory that people learn to compromise and agree for the better of the people. In the eastern part of the...
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