Closer Look: Holding Out Hope for a Country
On July 3, the Egyptian military announced it was ousting the democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, according to the desires of the country's people. It was also suspending the constitution and called for a new one to be framed.
Egypt's first attempt to build a democracy after the overthrow of the Mubarak regime has thus failed. Democracy may be imperative but its success is difficult.
Overthrowing an authoritarian regime does not necessarily lead to a constitutional democracy. After the most recent turmoil, it is possible that Egypt will follow a political path that returns to the past, jeopardizing years of progress seen in the region.
The failure of the first constitution may harm the respect the population, politicians and military have for such efforts. Revolution through rioting is likely to become a major driver of politics.
But that is not a fundamental solution for a country. Morsi was deposed, but the ideas he and the Muslim Brotherhood advocated still have some public support. One uprising ousted them, but they may make a comeback.
When two groups come into conflict on the street, which one represents the people? There is no rule and rioting is easily manipulated. There will not be a winner. Unrest will continue until stability is backed by force. But this is not what the Egyptian people want.
The country's military has seen its relationship with the people vary over the past 60 years. It has long been a political weapon, but has never been controlled by politicians.
The first constitution after an authoritarian era is critical and will unquestionably decide the fate of the country. A constitution must be divine, otherwise it will be unable to win the people's respect and become powerless. If the constitution is respected by everyone, it is rigid and powerful.
But a constitution cannot come from unrest. It has to be framed through a long and tough process of political bargaining. With power in their hands, it is very difficult for framers to resist the temptation to seek benefits for their own parties.
Politicians who can influence the drafting must understand that an unbalanced constitution will lead to failure, rather than strength, for their parties. They should also be compassionate and have a sense of mission for the people and country. But these kinds of people are very rare.
That is why many can be called politicians, fewer statesmen, and fewer still founding fathers. Morsi, Mohamed Mustafa ElBaradei and the leaders of Egyptian military have all failed to meet these criteria.
After the fall of Egypt's authoritarian regime, both the constitutional efforts led by the military and the Muslim Brotherhood have failed. The question is whether a people-led constitution can be framed. The chances may be small, but hope to end the cycle of revolutions endures.
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