Nine years after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya is struggling to end its political division and violent conflict which in turn has contributed to an array of socioeconomic challenges and fraying the social cohesion.
DISCUSSION OF LOCAL AND NATIONAL ISSUES
Libyans are more likely to discuss local and national issues frequently with friends and family.
• Over the third (33%) of Libyans said they discuss local and national issues frequently with other people, especially with friends (34%) and family (33%). This decreases to the fifth of the population (19%) when discussing such issues with people outside of their family and friends .
• Male respondents were more likely to discuss local and national issues that matter to them frequently with friends (42%) and people outside their family and friends’ circles (24%), compared to females (26% and 14% respectively). 37% of female respondents reported discussing local and national issues frequently with their family member compared to 28% of their male counterpart.
• Those aged 25-34 and 35-59 years old are more likely to discuss local and national issues that matter to them with friends (32%,38%) and people outside of their family and friends (18%, 22%) compared to those aged 18- 24 (9% and 21% respectively).
PERCEPTIONS OF DEMOCRACY
Libyans agree that democracy is the best form of governance for Libya, but they would prioritise stability.
• Perceptions of democracy as the best form of governance for Libya is high with overall agreement of 64%. While 28% disagreed with the statement.
• Male respondents were more likely to state that democracy is not the best form of governance for Libya. Male respondents (28%) were more likely to disagree or strongly disagree with the statement compared to their female counterpart (14%).
• 78% of Libyans are in favor of political power being concentrated with one strong leader than a system in which everyone has a say and power is shared between different groups. This seems to contradict the respondents’ answer to the first statement where 64% agreed that democracy is the best form of governance for Libya. However, “different groups” may have been confused with militia groups. Additional qualitative research is needed to further explore Libyans’ understanding of how a democratic system can work in Libya.
• 87% of Libyans reported in their opinion, stability is more important than the preservation of democratic rights and 52% believe that sometimes, it is necessary to use violence in support of a just cause.
• Libyans living in urban regions (88%) were slightly more likely to favor security and stability than the preservation of democratic values compared to those living in rural regions (86%).
While Libyans think politics is complicated, they still have something to say when political issues or problems are being discussed.
• Over two thirds (70%) of Libyans agreed or strongly agreed that politics are complicated and that they cannot really understand what is going on. 74% agreed or strongly agreed that they have something to say when political issues or problems are being discussed.
• Female respondents (77%) were more likely to agree or strongly agree that politics are complicated for them to understand compared to their male counterpart (63%). Similarly, Libyans living in rural areas (75%) were more likely to perceive politics as complicated for them compared to their urban counterpart (68%).
• Around two thirds (62%-67%) of Libyans believe that collective movements to voice concerns or resolve a problem are more likely to be heard than individual action.
• Male respondents (65%) were less likely to express their confidence in Libyan people coming together to solve a problem compared to their female counter part (68%).
• 61% of Libyans agree or strongly agree that they do not have any say about what the government does. Those living in rural areas (64%) were more likely to agree or strongly agree that they do not have any say about what the government does compared to their urban counterpart (59%).
• 42% of Libyans are not confident in the parliament’s ability to come together to resolve an issue. Male respondents (48%) were more likely to convey non confidence in the Parliament’s ability to come together to resolve an issue compared to their female counterpart (36%).
PERCEPTIONS OF ELECTIONS
Libyans largely perceive election as a mean through which citizens can influence the government.
• Despite the public perception of democracy, Libyans largely see elections as important and believe that citizens should try to participate in elections. Libyans also largely (80%) perceive elections as a means to influence decision making in the country.
• Most Libyans (90%) agree (39%) or strongly agree (51%) that it is important to vote when there are elections. A few understated the importance of elections, with 8% saying they are not too important.
• Over two thirds of Libyans believe that citizens should try to participate in the upcoming December 2021 elections if they takes place, while 22% believe that it will be useless.
• Libyans living in the south were less likely to say that voting would give them a chance to influence decision making. 25% of Libyans in the South disagreed or strongly disagreed that voting would give them the chance to influence decision making compared to their counterpart in the West (9%) and in the East (15%).
• When asked if they feel free to vote in the elections, Libyans said they are largely free to vote for whoever they want. In total, 56% strongly agreed and 36% agreed with this statement, with very few (6%) either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.
• The majority (93%) of Libyans are looking forward to December’s elections and would like there to be fair, credible and inclusive elections in Libya by the end of the year.
ATTITUDES TOWARD WOMEN’S POLITICAL PARTICIPATON
Libyans, both male and female, believe that men makes better political leaders than women.
• Half of Libyans (49%) agree that men make better political leaders than women do, while 37% disagreed with the statement and 14% remained neutral.
• Half of Libyans are also more likely to vote for a man legislator than a woman, even if they were equally qualified. In total, 5% strongly agree and 36% agree with this statement, with 35% either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.
• There was no significant difference across gender which indicates similar opinion across both groups.
• Libyans living in rural areas are more likely to vote for a man legislator than a woman, even if they were equally qualified. In total, 56% agree with this statement compared to 51% of their urban counterpart.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT OF LIBYAN CITIZENS
Libyans are more engaged in civic than political initiatives.
• 27% said they have participated in local civil society initiatives in the past. Only 10% said they attended a meeting or rally organized by a political party/leader.
• Libyans are not very keen on attending meeting or rallies organised by political parties and leaders. Nearly half (47%) of Libyans stated they would never participate in such events, while 42% said they might do in the future.
• Libyans living in the West (23%) are more likely to be involved in political meetings or rallies compared to their counterpart in the South (9%) and the East (10%). This was also observed across male respondents (14%) compared to their female counterpart (6%).
• Libyans are interested in participating in local civil society in the future with 48% stating they might participate. 25% said they would never do so.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Very few Libyans said that they have expressed their opinion about political or social issues to media outlets or community/government leaders.
• Overall, 20% of Libyans said they have attended a community meeting; 14% said they called into a radio or television talk show or wrote to a newspaper to express an opinion, and 10% contacted a community leader or public official to express an opinion.
• Libyans living in the South are almost twice as likely to attend a community meeting (39%) or contact a community leader or public official (16%) or call a radio or television talk show or write to a newspaper (25%) to express their opinion compared to those in the West of the country. Those living in the East undertook the same activities respectively at 25%, 11%, and 14%.
• Over twice as many men attended a community meeting (28%) or contacted a community leader or public official (15%) or called a radio or television talk show or wrote to a newspaper (18%) to express their opinion compared to women (12%, 5% and 10%).
• In total, 38% said they have expressed their opinions on political or social issues on social media in the past, and 24% intend to do so in the future. However, over a third of Libyans (36%) stated they would never do so.
This research report is made possible by the support of the UK Conflict, Stability, and Security Fund (CSSF)
BBC Media Action in England & Wales