Academic journal article Pepperdine Policy Review

Egypt Wrestles with Democracy: Expectations versus Realities

Academic journal article Pepperdine Policy Review

Egypt Wrestles with Democracy: Expectations versus Realities

Article excerpt

Thus far, the definition of democracy in Egypt is simply "not the current regime." Indeed as according to experts, the Cairo protest was revolutionary because for the first time, the people are taking responsibility of their government and embracing notions of a need to do something about it. Democracy is thought to encompass "individual freedom and identity, diversity, [political and economic] competition, [popular sovereignty], and political accountability" (Tessi er 2007, 109). Within the revolution, Egypt's focus was on change in society and politics (Ambassador Boker Balaz, September 10, 201 1, conversation with author). In particular, Egypt wanted an end to Mubarak's thirty -year rule, and wanted to get rid of its current constitution. As the Middle East's "population and intellectual leader," Egypt is in a unique position to demonstrate successful democratization in the Arab world (Roskin and Coyle 2008, 292).

Now that Mubarak is overthrown, the world seeks to examine how Egypt's expectations align with that of their reality, even though Egypt's expectations are more so vaguely defined than they are clearly defined once culture is taken into account. Now as Egypt's military currently governs the county, the world seeks to examine how the debate behind Egypt's ability to democratize will play out. The country is at a very critical point where praetorianism (or more accurately, anarchy) and democratization are battling it out. At this critical point, the country can easily slip back into authoritarianism.

Moreover regarding Egypt's fragile political state, Egypt's political history can further exacerbate this slip back into authoritarianism, which is not in favor of successful democratization. Egypt's political history poses the greatest impediment to Egypt pursuing a democratic form of governance on account of its numerous cycles of authoritarian rule. Democratization may prove a challenging development for Egypt because they have democratic rule to refer to in their history. In the eyes of its political history and current actions taken, military rule is not viewed positively toward shaping democracy given that Egypt has had military dictatorships in the past. This strong predominance of authoritarianism in Egypt's history and culture could explain the misconnection between where Egypt wants to be versus where they currently are now in democratizing.

FIRST OFF, WHAT HAPPENED? A LOOK AT THE APRIL 6 YOUTH MOVEMENT AND OVERTHROW OF MUBARAK

The April 6 Movement is a small group of secular Egyptian students who organized and led the revolution in Egypt overthrowing Mubarak in a matter of 18 days (Egypt's Facebook Faceoff, PBS, February 22, 201 1). The group was initially formed in 2008 to stand by a textile workers' strike against low wages and increased food prices (Egypt's Facebook Faceoff, PBS, February 22, 201 1). As indicated on April 6 Movement's group page on Facebook, the group describes themselves as the following:

We are a group of Egyptian Youth from different backgrounds, age and trends gathered since the renewal of hope in 6 April 2008 in the probability of mass action in Egypt which allowed all kind of youth from different backgrounds, society classes all over Egypt to emerge from the crisis and reach for the democratic future that overcomes the case of occlusion of political and economic prospects that the society is suffering from these days.

Most of us did not come from a political background, nor participated in political or public events before 6 April 2008 but we were able to control and determine our direction through a whole year of practice seeking democracy in our country - Egypt.

April 6 primarily used social media to reach their targeted population for mobilization: young, educated but unemployed people (Egypt's Facebook Faceoff, PBS, February 22, 201 1). April 6 gained 78,000 members in a very short amount of time on Facebook, and 6,000 protestors were arrested on the day of the protest (Egypt's Facebook Faceoff, PBS, February 22, 201 1). …

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