Three years on from the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime, Libya is
still experimenting with democracy and for a researcher like me, this makes it
a fascinating place. On 17 February Libyans celebrated 'revolution day' and yesterday
went to the polls to choose a commission to draft a new constitution. The
number who cast their vote is expected to be low – a fact that makes BBC Media
Action's work in Libya even more challenging.
Libyas new constitutional commission will be made up of 60
members, with equal representation for Libya's three regions. The commission
will have a mandate to draw up a new constitution to cover key issues such as
Libya's system of government, the status of minorities and the role of Islamic
As part of its governance work, BBC Media
Action is working in Libya to support this process. Our governance
work aims at facilitating greater transparency in political decision-making,
deepening the democratic process and encouraging a culture of transparency and
Built on research
Last summer, we commissioned a national survey of Libyans asking
them amongst other things for their opinion on the constitution building
process. In total we surveyed 1,146 people from all 22 districts of the
country, in order to produce robust national results.
The survey – conducted by research agency Altai – confirmed that the
constitution is an important issue for the Libyan people. Unsurprisingly, the
main issue identified by respondents at the time of the survey was security.
However the constitution was the seventh most mentioned national issue.
The survey also found a strong level of interest in the constitution
making process (67.6% of respondents said that they were 'interested' or 'very
interested'), and a belief that all Libyans should be involved in it (30.3% of
respondents said 'all Libyans' should be involved, compared to the 25.3% who
said 'academics' should be involved and 20.2% who said 'lawyers' should be
In fact many respondents (65.1%) said that they would like to have
the opportunity to express their opinion about the constitution-making process.
Despite this, there seems to be a high level of political apathy
in the country. The election commission has reported that only 436,000 Libyans
out of an eligible 3.4 million had signed up to vote before the deadline.
The survey found that Libyans rarely discuss the constitution with
other people (52.3% reported 'never' discussing it).
In our research this is a key finding as we believe that the
extent to which people discuss issues of governance – going beyond media
consumption to interact with issues and other people in their local context –
is a key determinant of efficacy and action.
The survey also found that the majority of Libyans (59.8%) claim
to know 'nothing at all' about the constitution making process.
However, the survey does suggest that BBC Media Action's work in
the country will contribute to changing this.
Of the respondents who said that that they did know something
about the constitution making process, nearly half (46.7%) reported that their
main source for this information was television. Furthermore, television was
especially important as a source of information for women and younger people.
BBC Media Action will be sharing this data with our
partners in Libya and working with the state broadcasters to
help provide the information about the constitution that the people are
demanding. A full report based on the data collected in the survey will be