catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Kinds of Democracy


Dec 14 2004
04:48 pm

There is an interesting little article in today’s NYT about Seif el-Islam el-Qaddafi, the son of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, leader of Libya. The part that really made me think was Seif’s conception of democracy for his country. Maybe he’s just a young idealist who will become a dictator if given a chance, but maybe democracy must become something different to work in the Arab world. Here’s the link and an exerpt:

In more extensive conversations, though, it becomes clear that the young Mr. Qaddafi is talking about an evolution, not a revolution, in Libyan politics. He is careful to remain within the bounds of his father’s long-enshrined “Third Universal Theory,” a largely unfulfilled ideological blueprint for a utopian socialist state. Political parties, banned by his father, are not part of the picture.

“My father has been promoting the idea of direct democracy in Libya for almost 26 years now,” Mr. Qaddafi said. “It’s quite rational and logical that we have to continue in that direction.”

Instead of American-style elections with national campaigns, he envisions something more limited and more complex: a federal system with strong regional governments under an indirectly elected central government that would share power with the leader of a tribal hierarchy who would eventually inherit the authority now exercised by his father.