New Constitution divides Egypt as economy falters
The process of passing Egypt's Constitution has created more political distrust and anger. Meanwhile, a neglected economy is heading towards grim shoals.
(Page 2 of 2)
Russia's plans for Crimea were long in the making
Listening to Edward Snowden at SXSW (+video)
The recidivism rate of former Guantánamo prisoners is really low – and falling (+video)
Liz Wahl: Russia Today anchor quits on air as cold war rhetoric heats up (+video)
A look at Ukraine's economic hole
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Morsi promised a national dialogue this week and said "mistakes" were made in the drafting of the Constitution, but those remarks fell completely flat as a conciliatory gesture. In the past few weeks he's gotten everything he wanted and critics of the Constitution received zero concessions. Now that he has the document in hand, offers of "dialogue" are being seen as an attempt to put a magnanimous gloss on what was a bare-knuckle, winner-take-all contest that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood just won.
Leftists, so-called liberals, and Egyptians who want a secular approach to the state and Egyptian identity are furious and pondering their next moves. The Brotherhood, meanwhile, is sticking to the game plan that's made it the winner in all four elections held (two referendums, the last parliamentary election, and the presidential) since Mubarak was driven from power in February 2011: superior organization and on-the-ground mobilization.
While opponents of the Constitution pointed to low turnout in the referendum as a sign of general public dissatisfaction with the document, the Brothers have won both elections with overwhelming turnout and ones with small turnout. With the constitution set, next up are fresh parliamentary elections that the movement is going to pull out all the stops to dominate, just like it did last time.
That annulled parliamentary election has much to do with why Morsi's political opponents trust neither him nor his movement. In 2011, the Brothers loudly proclaimed that they had no intention of dominating Egyptian politics and vowed to contest only about 30 percent of the seats in the next parliament. The movement and its newly minted Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) also promised not to run a candidate for president.
But as the contours of the new Egypt started to emerge, and the prospect of a counter-revolution by military officers looked less likely, the Brothers abandoned both promises. Obviously, Morsi won the presidency. And as for Parliament, the Brother's contested 100 percent of the seats, winning almost half of them.
Now on Morsi's agenda is victory in the parliamentary election. If the Brothers can steamroll the opposition again, they'll hold the presidency, the legislature, and a Constitution written with little input from the country's secular-leaning forces.
But the real challenge is Egypt's weak economy and the increased suffering of its poor. Absent economic improvement, and soon, the turmoil of Egypt's past two years could well end up being overshadowed.