Old PM for New Job?

The announcement that Kamal Ganzouri, a prime minister under Mubarak, will lead a new civilian cabinet seems unlikely to satisfy the protestors in Egypt.  The protestors want to reclaim their revolution and move it forward; Ganzouri looks like a step back into the past.

The army seems determined to go ahead with the first stage of elections next week, despite the unrest.  I think this is not wise — the army has now been so tarnished that any election held under its aegis will be tainted.

Sadly, regimes usually lag behind reality and have to be pushed forward (see Saleh, Yemen; Mubarak, Egypt).  What the crowds in Cairo, Alexandria, and elsewhere clearly want is for the army to step aside, give power to a new, responsible civilian regime, and THEN conduct elections.

Assuming that elections do go ahead next week, a key subtext will be how voters register their displeasure at the army, and seek to reject any links to the Mubarak era.   In my view, the risk is now increased that Islamist parties will win an outright majority.  They can claim to offer the greatest ‘change’ from the Mubarak era, and voter turnout and desires for change are likely to be enhanced by the events of the past week.

I have long predicted there was a good chance of the Egyptian army acting in an overtly counter-revolutionary fashion, and that this could lead to polarization and strengthening of radical groups.   I am hopeful that the reaction we will see, instead, is just a very high turnout and support for all parties promising change, with the Islamists gaining a plurality but not a majority (as in Tunisia).  But the risk has certainly increased of an outright Islamist victory.




About jackgoldstone

Hazel Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University
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