Democracy in Egypt?

The current turmoil is headed toward the resignation of Marshal Tantawi as head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and ideally with the hand-off of power from SCAF to a caretaker technocrat government that will preside over parliamentary elections this Fall and presidential elections next year.

Revolutions are famous for ‘devouring their children.’  This imagery is extreme, but the typical pattern is that those who take power immediately after the fall of the old regime do not stay in power long; rather they serve as placeholders, seeking to retain as much of the old regime forms and policies as possible, but soon giving way to the radical demands that lay behind the revolution in the first place.

In Egypt, the demands for an accountable goverment and social justice were incompatible with the military retaining a place above the law as a power unto itself, which SCAF was seeking.   The current confrontation will be a test of wills and power; but given the price paid in Libya and Syria by administrations loosing their military on protestors, it is inconceivable that the Egyptian army will unleash the force necessary to repress the current demonstrations.  Instead, as with Mubarak in January, Tantawi will be forced to give way.

About jackgoldstone

Hazel Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University
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1 Response to Democracy in Egypt?

  1. eric selbin says:

    Whether the extraordinarily powerful and long ensconced in power Egyptian military somehow qualifies as the children to be devoured you invoke I am unclear on–it seems a stretch. That said, events seem to be moving swiftly and it is hard to imagine that the scheduled elections will be held or if they are will have much legitimacy. Having somewhat boxed themselves in, a way out for the military without much more repression is not clear and if they have not already forfeited their place in the populations “affection” (an odd word in this context, no?), we may be watching them do so at this very moment. I also wonder who is controlling the police and if there are splits emerging between the police and military or even within the military itself. Imagine the repercussions of an Egyptian civil war…a revolution (such as it would be; perhaps a failure of my imagination) might be the more optimistic outcome than Egypt joining Syria in a slide to civil war.

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