By Milad Alshebani
Assist. Prof., Alfateh University, Tripoli, Libya


The word democracy which draws its original meaning from the Ancient Greek civilization, “the people’s authority” still in contemporary political system is an illusive and misleading term. The rule of the people, by the people and for the people, is a familiar phrase in most of today's constitutional documents, yet the application of the phrase is far away from reality. The crisis of democracy worldwide has been and still is the result of the political struggle for power. Modem political system alleged that direct popular democracy is impractical and impossible to apply. This led to the creation of the representative system which basically meant ruling the majority by the minority.

The quest for direct democracy requires the realization of two aspects; first the people are the source of authority and the basis of legitimacy and second the elimination of monopoly phenomena in the society whether by state or by individuals in a new socio-political system, "the human being's liberty would remain short if an other person overruled or controlled his need". Humanity is in need of genuine democracy which dedicates the ethical and humane principles of justice.

Development Phases of Direct Democracy Thought in Libya

The leader of the Libyan Revolution Col. Muammar Qathafi had once thought that the revolution, which he led in 1969, can be carried by the masses. The point was that if the change that Libya has witnessed on September 1st 1969 is for the people, then the people should themselves make the change. This thinking set the stage for further enhancing the idea of empowering the people. On April 16th, 1973, The Popular Revolution was declared with the aim of having people's involvement through direct supervision of their communities. This was considered the starting of a new phase that allowed people to have a fair share in power and to participate in the political process. The popular revolution led to the formation of people's committees as governing bodies directly chosen by the people. The creation of people's committees created dramatic changes in people's political rights.

Third Universal Theory: The Green Book

The introduction of the Green Book, Part 1, by Muammar Qathafi in 1976 was the core change toward establishing the concept of direct democracy. The Green Book makes a fundamental critique against the Marxist and capitalist variants of democracy. The Green Book addresses the issue of instruments of governing as the prime political problem facing human communities and hence the problem of democracy in the world.

The Green Book argues that the sources of people's tear are power, wealth and arms. D establish genuine democracy, these three sources of control must be totally controlled by the people.

The solution to the problem of democracy requires the elimination of the instruments of governance and the establishment of people's congresses and people's committees, l0 democracy in lieu of people's congresses and people's committees". A basic people's congress whose members are the whole and entire people in its boundary is le sole source of authority and legislation. Specialized people's committees are then charged with executing the decisions taken by the basic congress. This system elevates the citizens to the level of direct participation in public responsibility and allows the supervision of the people by the people.

Declaration of People’s Authoritry: The Jamahirya system

Aristotle once said "And from Libya comes always the new." March 2, 1977 marked the end of the Republican system and the commencement of the "Jamahiriya Era". On this date Libya witnessed the establishment of people's authority and the emergence of the state of the masses. The document of declaration of "People's Authority" stated that "direct popular power is the base of the political system in Libya, power is for the people and no power to anybody else". The popular power implies the people's authority in the decision-making and its supervision. As a result of this declaration the Libyan people were divided into Basic Peoples Congresses (BPC), each selects its own secretariat and specialized People's Committees (PC). The General People's Congress (GPC) is the meeting of representatives of the BPC, PC, unions and syndicates. In examining the structure of this system, it is worth to emphasize that the authority of legislation and the selection and supervision of the executive branches is the sole duty of the BPCs. The GPC is merely a committee to formulate the decisions taken by BPC. The councils of ministers were replaced by general people committees each was chosen by GPC among members of BPC people's committees. The members of GPC have no legislation power, but their only role is to attain a consciences on policy matters which are initiated and discussed in the Basic people's Congresses. These final decisions taken by the GPC are then transmitted back to BPCs to get implemented by people's committees.

During the last two and a half decades, the application of direct democracy in Libya has undergone a continuous process of consolidation and reshaping to further strengthen the people's grip of power. This year for example, the general people's committees (ministries) were mostly eliminated and their functions and authorities transferred to local peoples committees. This action came as a result of prolonged complains by the Basic People's Congresses that General People's Committees (the highest executive authority in the country) are unable to fulfill people's demand and aspirations. Members of the People's Committees are to be held accountable annually in front of Basic People's Congresses. These accountability may result in sacking and/or prosecution of some or the entire committee. Regional and country's budget, foreign policy, infrastructure projects and developments need to be discussed and agreed. by the Basic People's Congresses. Libyan laws and international accords can only be passed after ratification by Basic People's Congresses.