Monday, 28 May 2012 21:01
Presidential elections have taken place in Egypt and as matters stand there will need to be a run off between the two highest polling candidates as no one received 50% of the votes, a run of will now take place. Like much of the Muslim world the people of Egypt took to the streets in what has come to be known as the Arab spring. Since the removal of Hosni Mubarak parliamentary elections have taken place and now Presidential elections have taken place for the premier role in the country.
With the Islamic parties gaining significantly in the parliamentary elections in November 2011, the election of the president is seen as a major step in the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. The election results in reality are irrelevant as the underlying system in Egypt remains in place, which will handcuff any individual or group attempting to change it. As the elections for the president take place we make the following points:
1. What has taken place and what is currently taking place with the elections needs to be clearly understood. The military since Nasser took power in 1952 constructed the political architecture in Egypt. This system kept the army in charge of key strategic issues such as foreign policy and defense. On some occasions some aspects of domestic policy was left to parliament to deal with however Nasser, Sadat and Hosni Mubarak remained firmly in charge. The parliamentary elections that have taken place since the 1950's in realty have been a façade as all power has remained with the military, who have taken the presidential post in most of Egypt recent history.
The Arab spring however challenged this architecture and the army seeing their interests about to evaporate, removed Mubarak from power. The SCAF - Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – Egypt's military leadership, have overseen the transition ever since. The current elections are for the president, whilst the previous elections in November were for the parliament i.e. for the same system Nasser constructed in the 1950's. However on this occasion the faces will most likely be civilian. What is taking place is the continuation of old system with new faces.
2. These elections take place in an environment, where the powers of the president have not been defined and the nation's constitution has also not been written. This makes the result useless as what the ruler can and cannot do has not even been defined. This scenario has not been an accident. The SCAF have delayed the writing of a constitution for the country to ensure its interests always remain protected. The composition of the parliamentary elections in November 2011 was to determine the shape of the constituent assembly of 100 people who would write the constitution. The result of this election was a landslide victory for the Islamic parties. The failure of the secularists who have little traction in Egypt, claimed parliament was not representative. In order to placate such claims the Islamists have compromised and only taken half of the seats on constituent assembly, leaving the rest to the army. The Islamists have further dropped their call for implementing Islam, with the FJP even dropping their 'Islam is the solution,' slogan.
3. Elections have rarely brought change. The emergence of liberal democracy in Western Europe was not through the ballet box, but through a bloody struggle with the church. The colour revolutions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, in order to bring change was not through the ballet box, but through various uprisings to topple the rulers. Similarly the Arab Spring would never have taken place if the Ummah waited for elections.
4. The army has made it very clear what it expects from any civilian leadership that emerges. The SCAF has not yet fully lifted the countries emergency laws and has not transferred any of its powers. The SCAF has declared that Egypt 'is committed to all regional and international obligations and treaties.' Since taking power the SCAF has overseen the trial of 16,000 people in closed military trials, including bloggers, journalists and protesters. In May 2011, one of the members of the council, General Mamdouh Shahin stated that the under the new constitution Egypt's military should be given 'some kind of insurance ...' so that it is not under the whim of a president.
A Wall Street Journal report published on May 18 predicts what SCAF has already hinted to several times over the past year: that it will not relinquish its upper hand over foreign policy, which includes Egyptian relations with the United States, the provider of an annual military assistance to Egypt. The Army is also expected to seek to protect its budget from public scrutiny and parliamentary accountability.
5. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) have made a number of political calculations that are rooted in myths. They believe that an Islamic system can only be implemented gradually. Whilst they argue that the Islamic solutions aren't ready to solve problems such as poverty, unemployment and development. They also falsely believe implementing Islam will scare minorities, scare investors and scare the international community. The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the MB's political party has even dropped its 'Islam is the solution' slogan and has made contradictory policy statements as they have constantly back tracked in an effort to appease everyone. Saad al-Husseini, a member of Egypt's Freedom and Justice Party executive bureau said in an interview, that Tourism is very important for Egypt and stressed that drinking and selling alcohol are forbidden in Islam. However, he then added, "Yet Islamic laws also prohibit spying on private places and this applies to beaches as well...I wish 50 million tourists would travel to Egypt even if they come nude."
6. What has dogged Egypt for so long is legislative sovereignty, the ability for the individual, group, collective or by consensus to legislate. This always leads to a situation where the minority will legislate to maintain their stronghold over the people and the state. This is why western democracies are riddled with corruption, which multiple reforms have been unable to end. What Egypt needs is a fixed system with fixed rules. The people whether elected or from the masses should not legislate, in this way what is right or wrong remains fixed and cannot be changed at a whim. Via these fixed laws a constitution can be constructed and this allows for justice as everyone knows where they stand and are subject to the same laws as the rest of society. The role of elected representatives is then restricted to interpreting the laws to ensure the right laws are applied to their realities.
Over the last year, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Egypt. In the face of tear gas, batons and bullets, they refused to go home. Hour after hour, day after day, week after week, until dictators who ruled for decades were forced from power. Today whilst some of the tyrants have gone, their corrupt systems remain. The elections that have taken place are not for a new system, but for the elections of personalities, who will take up positions in the same corrupt system. It is unfortunate that many of the Islamic groups have already made statements that leave much to desire regarding their Islamic credentials. But whoever emerges in Egypt should remember that the unmovable Mubarak was eventually toppled by the people, if the new leadership fails to implement what the masses elected them for, they will also be thrown into the dustbin of history that now contains Ben Ali , Gaddafi and Mubarak.