As Libya's new leaders work on setting the country right and eliminating the last holdouts of Muammar Gaddafi’s loyalists, budding politicians are looking forward to the planned elections.
"Our party is being formed," said Abdel Dayem al-Gharabli, a lawyer from Zawiyah, west of Tripoli, after lengthy talks in a cafe with a group of friends.
To be called the National Democratic Encounter, it aims to be broad-based, supporting the rule of law and respect for liberties, he said.The really interesting thing here, of course, is that there's not yet a government for the parties to influence, a legislature to which to recruit members, or elections in which to participate. There's a provisional government, and there will likely be a constitutional convention next year, followed a year later by some sort of legislative and presidential elections. Parties are forming now with an eye to influencing the process of creating a government.
This is reminiscent (to me, anyway) of the argument advanced in The Party Decides that America's constitutional Founders were essentially a party. They built a government that would protect and advance their interests, and deliberately made that government very hard to change (the amendment procedure is a very high wall, and the separation of powers structure is filled with veto points making it difficult to pass sweeping laws). Importantly, they organized and planned to control a government prior to that government's existence.
In Libya, it is not entirely clear on what basis these parties are being formed. They certainly have their roots in geography and ethnicity, but some sorts of ideological claims may be built on top of those.
(h/t Marc Herman)