Thursday, July 4, 2013

Egyptian Democracy

I can't resist making a comment about events in Egypt the last few days. A lot of us are conflicted, glad to see  the end of a government intent on imposing a theocratic dictatorship, but concerned that the agency bringing about this desirable end is the military.  Well, I have a couple of thoughts about this.

First of all, for those who don't know what happened in Egypt's elections, there were really three groups competing to run the government after the fall of Mubarak:  the military, which had been in control for decades, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and a very large but loose coalition of relative liberals.  It is the last group which really represented the aspirations of the Egyptian people (as far as we can tell) and it is they that pushed Mubarak out.

Just a side comment here:  My wife, in watching the various protests over the last few days, noticed that the Muslim Brotherhood supporters were practically all old guys with beards; the "liberals" (for want of a better term) were mostly young people in jeans and t-shirts.  Just like with the teabaggers in this country, the Islamists have already lost; like the victims of a character in a famous Anime, they are already dead- they just don't know it yet.

Anyway, back to the subject.  In the first round of Egyptian Presidential elections, the military and the Islamists, being generally authoritarian people, each coalesced behind one candidate.  The liberals, being, well, liberals, didn't and ended up fielding several candidates.  The result of this was that, although the liberal candidates in the aggregate easily got more votes than the candidates of either the Islamists or the military, none of the liberal candidates individually could beat those two, and so a runoff election was held, in which the Muslim Brotherhood guy narrowly beat the military guy.

Is this democracy?  Well, in a sense it is, but it is fatally flawed democracy which pushed out the candidates truly representing the majority in favor of the same two factions who have spent decades reducing Egypt to its current pitiful state.  Whatever has happened here, it is clear that the Egyptian people are not satisfied with a mockery of democracy.  We'll just have to wait and see what they end up with next.


Infidel753 said...

There's a lesson in this for Americans, of course. Right now it's actually the right in the US that seems most divided (tremendous bad feeling between the fundies and the libertarians), but we can't guarantee that will always be true. If we ever allow the left to become so factionalized that it can't unite on election day, we run the risk of letting an American-Taliban-dominated Republican party to get back into power, even though its supporters are in the minority.

Magpie said...

Just a thought…

During the 17th century England had civil wars fought mainly over religious prerogatives, revolutions bloody and bloodless, a military dictator of sorts, regicide and adoption of a foreign king. It took them centuries of experimentation and failure to stagger to the version of democracy the UK has now, which is still imperfect.

Now we see countries dealing with equal complexities but amplified by all the things that make up our modern world.
Yet many seem to expect them – bereft of any real democratic traditions of their own - to sort out everything within a news cycle.

And to an outcome we find palatable, even as we still struggle with religiously motivated forces that interfere with our own progress.

Whatever happens in Egypt… is probably going to keep happening… for a long time.

Murr Brewster said...

Hmm. Thanks for the breakdown. I have discovered that entire regions of the world have slipped under my radar because I keep thinking that whatever's in the news is going to go away soon, and I don't pay attention. I'm afraid I rely on people like you and Infidel753 to catch me up. On the other hand, I do know a lot about duck sex.

Anonymous said...

in case you aren't paying attention it's the Tea Party and the Republicans who are against the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Broterhood are Obama's buddies.
I know it's hard to admit for you,but the real radicals are in our own "democratically" elected governemnt

Green Eagle said...

"in case you aren't paying attention it's the Tea Party and the Republicans who are against the Muslim Brotherhood."

The teabaggers and the Republicans are against the Muslim Brotherhood only in the sense of two thugs fighting over the same turf. In the end, their values are almost exactly the same, except that the Muslims don't believe in interest, while the Republicans believe it's the right of the rich to steal everything.