Egypt : 3 biggest obstacles to democracy

February 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments

Egypt has come moved with blinding speed and is on the brink of becoming the world’s youngest democracy. There are three significant hurdles that have to be overcome however and I’ll be quite interested to see how they do so.

1) The remnants of Mubarak’s party.

The appointment of Omar Suleiman was by no means a win for Egyptian people. Hailing from the security services he is hardly the defender of the people that we would like to see shepherding the country through this delicate time. It’s anyone’s guess what went on between Suleiman and Mubarak on the eve of Feb 11th but I’m guessing Suleiman did more to ensure Mubarak’s departure than Mubarak himself. Given this and the fact that he is a member of the Armed Forces Supreme Council that is now governing Egypt I don’t think we have heard the last of our friend Omar.

2) The Military

While they were hailed by the protesters when Mubarak was still in power there is no guarantee they will hand over power come the end of this transition. They have their fingers in many private enterprises from making toasters to running resorts and many a Colonel has been made rich because of it. While their dominance of private industry is falling to the more agile international companies moving in a transition to civilian control of the military would certainly hasten it. As always were money is involved nothing is simple or fair. I’m encouraged, however, to see that people are still in the streets pushing the military to move quickly to a new government. If they can keep the momentum up the military may have no choice but to cede their demands.

3) The Egyptian People

Both the source of greatest hope and greatest concern all of these efforts will fail if the people of Egypt are not ready to give up their authoritarian addiction. Despite what many would have us believe democracy is not easy and can be terribly inefficient. As we have seen in Russia, Ukraine and to a certain extent Iran what starts out as a promising step in the right direction can sometimes make a 180° turn for the worse. The people of Egypt have been led by strong leaders for almost 200 years and it can be very difficult to give up the comfort of not having to make difficult choices.

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