By: Najah Pascal*
Elections are used all over the world to select people and
groups to take up formal political positions and to find solutions to decisions that will have national or international effects. For example the vote for the US presidents and the British 2016 referendum, that would decide whether or not the United Kingdom would leave Europe. Elections are perhaps the most important aspect of democracy, embodying the idea of people governing their own lives. Most countries in the world hold regular elections, but in many elections, they are hardly competitive. For example, many parties have the same ideology, goals, and financiers, but differ in form and names of candidates. This has often been the case in Libya, but now is the time for Libya to adopt a real democratic system of politics.
The head of the Presidential Council (PC) of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Al-Sarraj, announced in a speech last month his aim to hold the presidential and legislative elections in March 2018. On hearing this, I initially asked myself, in less than a year away from the elections, do we have the political awareness and education to vote correctly? Some aspects make Libya ill-prepared for any elections. In my experience, many citizens in Libya fall into distinct categories about voting for a political figure(s). Those who lack a genuine want and desire to take part in formal elections, those that have little political awareness, and knowledge of Libyan politics, and those controlled by ideologies advocated by extremist political groups, for example those who dispel a vote for government and laws decided upon by the community, and instead call for an Islamic Caliphate. There are also those in the Libyan society who due to the difficult times they experienced during and after Gaddafi’s rule, and the disastrous election experiments of 2012 and 2014, have lost all confidence in a formal election.
Participation in national politics and decision-making that will affect one’s life and community is I believe, a necessity. What we need in Libya is to promote and encourage this, by raising the level of political consciousness, consolidating the principles of citizenship, and creating the ability to discriminate and choose between political groups and leaders. People in Libya need to understand how important it is to have a say in the running of your country and efficiently, of your lives. To get a significant population voting, we must have a political body that when voted for, can guarantee rights in return, and carry out its duties with a sense of responsibility that will benefit our society. This will encourage many people who lack confidence in the system to go out and vote. With the establishment of democracy and the dispelling of corruption in politics, society becomes strong, and the country will benefit from the strength and diversity of its members and the variety of their ideas. Participation in political issues will strengthen relations between members of society by placing the interest of the citizen above all considerations.
The right to vote is exactly that, a right, but it is also a national responsibility that should not be neglected or misused, as this leads to the emergence of political leaders not qualified to lead the country. Indeed, the voters hold much of the responsibility when it comes to the actions of their leaders, this is why the people must be fully educated and aware of the options they have when voting, and informed on the benefits of using their vote. To choose a competent political leader, voters must have sufficient political awareness and understand the importance of their vote. Indeed, enough political awareness ensures that an individual is capable of using their rights and upholding their duty to themselves and their country.
Media plays an indispensable role in democracy. Indeed, the media is the primary platform on which the voter is informed on the political bodies they can vote for. The media offers the public unrestricted scrutiny and discussion of the progress of political institutions, allowing them to judge their actions, both successes, and failures, and take these into account when deciding on how to place their vote. By following their activities via the media, voters can form well-educated opinions on prospective leaders, and so make a choice that is relevant to their wants and needs, about the running of their country. Currently, the Libyan voter can not fully rely on most of the media available, because many of them are funded by particular political parties and therefore have an external agenda to serve their financiers, not the Libyan citizens.
Before we cast our votes in 2018, we need to be informed and aware. We need an efficient media platform that documents and informs the actions of all those participating and campaigning. We need all Libyans to understand the importance of their vote.
My fellow Libyans, I implore you not to elect former deputies who were unable to stop the chronic governmental waste. Do not elect candidates who signed a document to deprive your brothers and sisters at home of their most fundamental human rights. Do not elect candidates who do not believe in the constitutional principle that guarantees freedom of belief and worship. Do not elect ex-presidents who have used their membership to serve personal interests. Do not elect those who buy votes with money or bribes. Do not elect those who employ religion to strengthen their electoral position. Do not elect those who hinder the application of the law. Do vote for the candidates that represent what you believe in. Do quest and criticise the actions of prospective leaders. Do vote for those that respect and fight for freedom of speech and freedom of belief. DO USE YOUR VOTE. Your vote is your voice. Speak up, and have a hand in creating the kind of Libya you want to live in.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good man should do nothing.”
*A Libyan Writer