Libya Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: December 24, 2021

A protest against dictator Muamar Ghaddafi in Bayda, Libya, in July 2011. Photo credit: Wikimedia/ليبي صح (CC0 1.0)

Freedom House Rating

Not Free
Government Type
In Transition
6.9 million
Presidential and Parliamentary Elections
December 24, 2021
Local Elections
Ongoing in various places
Partial Local Elections
March and April 2019
Parliamentary Elections
June 25, 2014

National elections in Libya are overdue due to the political crisis and civil war. In November 2020, Libyan stakeholders participating in UN-sponsored talks proposed December 24, 2021 for presidential and parliamentary elections. However, delays are possible.

Political Context

In 2011, an uprising deposed longtime dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi. Since then, Libya has been in crisis, and is currently in a state of civil war. Two rival (unelected) governments control different parts of the country. The United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, controls the country’s west. Its leader is Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. al_Sarraj has asked the UN for support to hold elections.

Warlord Khalifa Haftar‘s Libya National Army (LNA), based in Benghazi, controls the east and south. 

The House of Representatives (HoR), elected in June 2014, is based in Tobruk in the east. It opposes the GNA, and although it theoretically appointed Haftar as head of the LNA, in practice it exerts little if any control over the LNA.

In potentially good news, the factions announced a ceasefire in August 2020, and stated a desire to hold elections within 18 months. In September, negotiators from both sides agreed to proposed elections in December 2021. Nonetheless, it is unclear when the elections will actually happen.

Protests Gathering Momentum

In the last few months, a protest movement has been growing. Citizens are demanding elections, among other things. For example, a new protest group called Harak Al-Shabab 23/08 organized demonstrations in August in several cities (and faced a crackdown). Their demands included conducting elections, and better governance and accountability in general. Other groups have demonstrated for the ouster of both Haftar and the GNA. As a result, Haftar’s government submitted its resignation in September, and al-Sarraj has indicated that his government will resign as well.

Most recently, a group of 29 mayors from around the country called for elections by February 2021.

Ongoing Local Elections

Various cities have been holding local elections, following the demands of citizens.

Geopolitical Context

Russia and Turkey, which each back a different faction, took the lead on January 2020 ceasefire negotiations. However, some have criticized their handling of the situation and believe that they are impeding, rather than encouraging, progress.

Curated News and Analysis

Missy Ryan, Washington Post (May 10, 2021): U.S. appointment of Libya envoy signals intensified push to end post-revolution instability

Zehra Nur Düz, Andalou Agency (May 5, 2021): UN envoy for Libya submits proposal on elections to forum

Mary Fitzgerald, World Politics Review (May 3, 2021): Peace in Libya Will Require More Than Elections

Safa Alharathy, Libya Observer (April 28, 2021): Five major countries stress importance to stick to date of elections and withdrawing mercenaries from Libya

Brian McQuinn, The Conversation (March 22, 2021): Ten years after the Arab Spring, Libya has another chance for peace

TRT World (February 16, 2021): 10 years after Arab Spring, Libya hopes for fair elections

Sasha Toperich, The Hill (February 15, 2021): Libya’s new interim government pressed hard to deliver national elections

Barbara Bibbo, Al Jazeera (February 6, 2021): Libya’s tortuous path towards a constitution and elections

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (January 20, 2021): ‘Kleptocrats’ will try to block Libya elections, says UN envoy

Enes Canli, Andalou Agency (November 13, 2020): Libyan parties agree to hold elections on Dec. 24, 2021

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (October 5, 2020): Turkey and Russia’s deepening roles in Libya complicate peace efforts

Rabia Golden, Libya Observer (October 4, 2020): Over 30 municipalities are due for council elections before the end of this year

Shahed Ezaydi, openDemocracy (September 29, 2020): What exactly is happening in Libya?

Al Jazeera (September 14, 2020): Libya’s eastern-based government resigns amid protests

AP (September 24, 2020): Libyan leader asks for UN support in elections

Edward Yeranian, VOA (September 17, 2020): Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister ‘Ready to Step Down’ if New Leader Chosen

Jeffrey Feltman, Brookings Institution (September 11, 2020): Washington can seize a pinprick of light in Libya

Kali Robinson, Council on Foreign Relations (June 18, 2020): Who’s Who in Libya’s War?

The Economist (January 23, 2020): Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan warlord, is not interested in compromise

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content, and their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here

Updated May 11, 2021

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