Saturday, 6 July 2013

Egypt

So, Egypt's short lived experiment with democracy appears to be over. Oh, I know, the army are saying they will be handling power back soon. Just like in Fiji.

I don't particularly like the Muslim Brotherhood being in power but they were democratically elected; collapsing democracy is a bigger problem than allowing some moderate Islamists the opportunity to disillusion their support base.

Revolution was necessary to get rid of Mubarak, but not so with the Muslim Brotherhood. A second revolution will probably condemn Egypt to either civil war or dictatorship - following the pattern of Russia in 1917. If you don't like the results of a democratic election, the solution is not to start a rampage to collapse the elected government.

It would have been be nice if the Egyptians had chucked out Mubarak and immediately started debates about the relative merits of Single transferable Vote as opposed to Mixed Member Proportional representation; but that was not exactly a realistic prospect. It was always going to be a bumpy road; the important thing is that the Egyptians stayed on it.

Morsi was always going to be divisive as almost as many people voted against him as voted for him. He lost the enthusiasm of some of those who supported him, but I don't think this could really be described as a 'popular' uprising.  Yeah, a lot of people are running about in the streets setting things on fire and scrapping - that's what you do when you are young and have no job and no hope of getting one.

Because the fundamental problem isn't Morsi's mildly silly Islamism.  People don't over throw their governments because they want to close all shops at 10pm.  They tell them to stop being silly.  Morsi's government fell for the same reason Mubarak fell - not enough jobs and high food prices.  And this will be the reason the next democratically elected government - if there is one in the near future - will be welcomed, become loathed and finally fall.  The example of China suggests a lot of people will put up with a lot in exchange for work, food, and a degree of security in exchange for following the rules.  Democracy is trumped by hunger.

One of two things will probably happen now, neither of them good. Either the military will keep power, while mouthing an intention to return to democracy when the 'national emergency' is over, which will always be '12-18 months from now'; or they will cede control back to an interim government, which will also rapidly become hated and unpopular, and the cycle will repeat.

And even if a stable government is established, the precedent has been set for military intervention at the whim of the generals. Not a good omen.

Yes, I know, that was one of three things. No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition, and all that.

So we've had a coup followed by mass arrests of the leaders of the democratically elected (until ver recently) governing party. Not looking too good, is it? Even if the army does cede power back to civilians, they appear to be setting things up so that the Muslim Brotherhood is too weak or intimidated to contest power again.

In Britain, the Tories are consistently behind in the polls. Will the British army heed The Will Of The People and oust these power crazed scum?

Jonathan Freedland makes a (for him surprisingly) good point in the Guardian. The impact of this coup may be more than just the stunting of Egyptian democracy, but a wider disillusionment with democracy among Muslims in the region. They tried, they won, they were run out of town:
To remove an elected president, to arrest a movement's leaders and silence its radio and TV stations, is to send a loud message to them and to Islamists everywhere. It says: you have no place in the political system. It says: there is no point trying to forge a version of political Islam compatible with democracy, because democracy will not be available to you.
Why bother trying if you are going to be overthrown when you try to actually use the power that was fairly won? I think this is important because democracy requires compromise. The Islamists just booted out in Egypt would - if they had been allowed to continue to participate - have discovered the necessity of diluting their plans, building consensus and accepting there are just some things that they can not do because the people will not wear it. Instead, they've been taught a blunt lesson on How To Do It - get the mob out, get the Men With Guns out, then you can do whatever you like. The next incarnation of Islamism in Egypt will be far harsher, and far less concerned with gaining power from the ballot box.

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