Yet Libya, site of the Arab world’s most violent revolution last year, staged largely peaceful national elections over the weekend, with victory appearing likely for a coalition appealing to a wide range of ideological views that is led by one of the main figures in the war that ousted longtime strongmanMoammar Kadafi.
Preliminary vote counts suggest a landslide triumph for the National Forces Alliance, or NFA, led by former Transitional National Council Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, a Western-educated political scientist.
The alliance, a coalition of about 60 political parties and 200 civil society groups, is seen as somewhat more progressive than its main Islamist rivals. In that regard, the Libyan vote played out differently than the one in Tunisia, where a moderate Islamist party captured a plurality in parliament, and Egypt, where voters chose the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate in a polarizing runoff against a candidate strongly identified with that nation’s deposed secular leadership.
"There are some key differences between Libya and its neighbors," said Shadi Hamid, research director at the Brookings Doha Center. "Egypt and Tunisia feature high levels of polarization along Islamist-liberal lines. Libya lacked such a dynamic. This helped neutralize the Islam issue, so the [Muslim Brotherhood’s] Justice and Construction Party could not distinguish itself from the competition as easily."
About 1.8 million of 2.8 million registered voters, a turnout of nearly 65%, cast ballots in Libya for a temporary national assembly, a vote that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described as “well-conducted and transparent.”
In Janzour, the NFA won about 26,000 votes, compared with the 2,000 garnered by the Justice and Construction Party, or JCP, according to early results. Similar figures emerged in Zlitan, east of the capital, Tripoli.
The NFA is likely to serve “as a bridge between the old and new Libya,” said Frederic Wehrey, a senior associate at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Besides casting a wide ideological net, the NFA may have been helped by tribal factors.
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