Libyan voters in the capital opted overwhelmingly in favour of a liberal coalition led by wartime premier Mahmud Jibril which also trounced other parties in the east, partial tallies showed on Thursday.
In the central Tripoli electoral district, the National Forces Alliance (NFA) had a nearly ten-fold advantage over the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party (JCP) in voting for seats reserved for parties in the national congress.
The NFA scored 46,225 votes compared with the JCP’s modest 4,774. The remainder of the eight constituencies in Tripoli voted along similar lines with the exception of Hay Al-Andalus, where the NFA did not field candidates.
Thursday’s electoral commission figures, combined with earlier results from the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of the revolt that ousted Moamer Kadhafi last year, give Jibril’s coalition a massive lead among the seats reserved for parties.
“This is a first ever election so everything is a surprise,” said Sami Zaptia, editor of English-language news website Libya Herald.
Securing the support of the majority of voters in the east and west’s largest cities does not automatically translate into the power to dominate the next congress, in which independents hold the majority of seats.
A total of 120 seats in the assembly are reserved for individual candidates, with the remaining 80 seats set aside for party list candidates such as those fielded by Jibril’s coalition.
The parties race follows the proportional system, with seats in the congress distributed among political entities in roughly the same proportion as the votes cast for that party.
This system gives a chance for Islamists to gain some party-list seats in the assembly even if they came a distant second in an electoral district.
Independents, courted by both the liberal coalition and JCP as potential allies, may well determine the orientation of the next congress.
“We are not clear or sure what will happen with the independents: a lot of them are proxies representing other parties,” Zaptia said.
The results of Libya’s first national election since Kadhafi’s fall are being rolled out district by district in a complex counting system that needs to measure the performance of both individual candidates and those fielded by parties.
Libya’s electoral commission has yet to fix a date for publication of the final results.