May 21, 2013
Post-revolutionary Politics in Libya: Inside the General National Congress
In the lead-up to the GNC elections last year, the political spectrum comprised a broad coalition of non-Islamists led by Mahmoud Jibril's National Forces Alliance (NFA) on one end and loosely-aligned Islamist networks on the other. Many international observers and commentators characterized the election results as a liberal victory—the NFA outperformed the Islamists by winning a plurality of the seats available to party lists. However, over the course of the last year, the broad structuring of the NFA led to fragmentation, while its primary rival, the Muslim Brotherhood's JCP, has been able to rally independents and punch above its weight. The political arena has also increasingly seen outside actors emerge—namely militias—that have successfully pressured the GNC despite having no political representation. The ensuing friction among the political blocs within the GNC, exacerbated by external pressure groups, has resulted in a polarized political landscape that will require significant effort on the part of the Libyan people and the international community to bolster those seeking compromise to advance the democratic transition.
Mezran is a senior fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. Lamen is a nonresident fellow at the Hariri Center based in Tripoli. Knecht is formerly a research assistant at the Hariri Center.