There are a number of important points of political interest that the situation in Libya brings to mind today. It is obvious that a population that is disenchanted with its leadership must present some means to change it. Without democratic institutions, such a change can usually only be made by means of mass action or by the rebellion of an organized minority, as in the case of the American Revolution against Britain in 1776. The same condition resulted in the demise of the first American union under the Articles of Confederation, when an organized minority forced an election where only 5% of the population passed the Constitution as Baird describes in his An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution text published in 1913.
Where democratic institutions are present but not functioning as in the case of Egypt, mass action to remove a leader must press for resignation, which is unrealistic, or by influencing non-democratic segments of the government, like the military in Egypt's case, to force removal. Where no clear theory of separation exists, or as in the case of America before the Civil War, a lack of defined methods of secession, then civil war is largely a probable end. The example of modern Yugoslavia is a case in point. Here Sabrina Ramet in her book, Balkan Babel (2002) makes the distinction between bad government and illegitimate government and legitimate government.
A government made up of a legitimately elected group or party can pervert democratic institutions and thereby corrupt the process of its removal, thereby becoming a "bad" or illegitimate government as opposed to a legitimate government that simply squanders resources or fails to implement the policies it was elected to carry out.
One can see that many states today function without a legitimate reference to their political theories of governance. One can make an argument that Russia in it actions in Chechnya and China regarding neglected or negated provisions in its constitution would fall in this category. The same is true for many other, India with reference to the discrimination of is vast underclass of Dalits and unregistered tribes and the suspension of law in various areas under development where uprisings like that of the Naxalites now have grown significant. Other examples abound, in Ivory Coast, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
An example can be drawn from the USA currently as well. In recent years various politicians in some states, primarily Texas have questioned the legitimacy of the central government in Washington and have begun to ignore laws passed by Congress or the rules draw up and authority of Federal agencies, Arizona is prominent here. The current Governor of Texas has threatened to secede from the Union in defiance of laws passed since the Civil War which make that clearly an illegal act
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...). Would such an act result in a military conflict? Would citizens in Texas who opposed secession be able to vote on such an act?
If a political leader like Governor Perry seceded, would it be legitimate and how could citizens respond if Perry refused to acknowledge the Union and acted like current Wisconsin Governor Walker and began to rule by a Republican majority? Would citizens opposed to secession be able to call in Federal troops to protect them against the Texas Rangers or other state units? Would NATO or the Organization of American States be asked to establish no-fly zones? How fast could the UK descend into chaos, or Spain with a Catalan secession? Rebellion spreading across the Middle East brings up a number of uncomfortable questions about government that need to be considered by citizens and leaders in public policy. The fire may continue to grow and the process for its ends remain unclear.