Several weeks of declaring Mahmoud Jabril’s pro-western party the “winner” in Libya’s elections has come to a close, with the final count giving his National Forces Alliance (NFA) a solid plurality among the parties competing in the election.
The NFA got 39 seats, while the Justice and Construction Party (JCP) came in second place with only 17. That may seem like a big difference, but in a parliament of 200 members, it may mean very little.
The curious system of Libyan politics actually mandates that 120 out of the 200 seats go to independent candidates running outside of the party system, so it was theoretically impossible for either the NFA or the JCP to win outright. The independents are being presented as a “third power,” but they are more than that, capable of spurning the parties entirely and ruling without them if they chose.
The NFA’s claims of victory then are extremely premature. The JCP thinks it will have an easier time courting religious-minded independents, but might well have to offer massive concessions to bring enough on board to government. The independents are definitely the kingmakers in Libya, and no matter how many stories claim a winner has been declared in the vote, it really hasn’t.