Sunday, July 7, 2013

Why Egypt Needs Democracy

The post-Morsi violence in Egypt continues unabated. From my perspective, Egypt's current difficulties are the result of two competing objectives - competition between democracy (as a voting form) and constitutionalism (as a sustaining mechanism for protecting individual/minority rights). Since Mubarak's fall from power, the Egyptian Army has sought to protect the later element while tolerating the former. Under Morsi, the Army believed that the Muslim Brotherhood was negatively reshaping the foundations of Egyptian society in intolerable ways. Yet, this being said, I also believe the Army recognizes that democracy is the only mechanism capable of calming Egypt's deep social fractures. Only democracy can empower the various actors that define Egypt's socio-political landscape. The lesson of history is clear. From Northern Ireland to Lebanon, democracy has proven its worth in providing an imperfect but significant stabilizing social force. Ultimately, the Army sees itself as a guardian of constitutionalism - the guarantor of a cross-sectarian society in which one political faction cannot assume supreme power. Sustaining this belief, I believe the Egyptian Army has 3 great fears - unrestrained social instability, the emergence of a Sunni political opposite to Iran and the loss of their own power. In this sense, taking the Army's worries alongside the varied political ambitions of the Egyptian people, only democratic constitutionalism can temper the Army's fears whilst also balancing Egyptian society in a somewhat peaceful and ongoing dynamic of political competition.

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