Libyans took to the polls on Saturday in the first free election that country has seen in over 50 years. During an interview with Freedom House's Arch Puddington in February, Puddington made it clear that 2012 would be remembered as a banner year for Middle East liberty.

Here is the original text from the Feb. 6 interview:

"As significant as 1989 when the Berlin wall came down, overwhelmingly the story of 2012 is centered in the Middle East," says Freedom House's Arch Puddington. "People were inspired by events in Egypt, they started demanding their rights."

Puddington has helped record the long-overdue revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and countries in the Freedom in the World 2012 index. Founded in 1941, Freedom House quantifies and ranks the political freedom and civil liberties of every country in the world as "Free," "Partly Free," or "Not Free."

Though the Arab Spring has led some regimes to respond with arrests and killings, Puddington remains confident political rights and civil liberties will succeed in the longer run. Since the first Freedom in the World index was published in 1973, he notes, free countries have doubled in number and not-free countries have declined. In the 2012 edition, 87 countries are listed as Free, 60 as Partly Free, and 48 as Not Free.

To see where your country ranks, go here: http://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2012

About 4.55 minutes.

Interview by Matt Welch. Camera by Meredith Bragg and Joshua Swain; edited by Swain.

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