With the announcement of the results of Egypt’s 2014 constitutional referendum, the curtains were brought down on the first stage of the July 3 roadmap. According to the consensus on the roadmap, Egyptians should now be readying for parliamentary elections. However, all indicators point to a change in the agreed upon sequence of events, in which presidential elections will most likely come next. As a matter of principle, I have many concerns regarding amendments or changes to the roadmap. This is not due to personal convictions regarding staging parliamentary elections before electing a president, and neither is it due to inflexibility or persistence. Ultimately, the roadmap, which is the result of human decisions, is not immune to changes or amendments. Rather, there is the concern that if the door for change is opened once, it can’t be closed again.
Looking back on July 3 itself, without a doubt, presidential elections should have come first, before anything else. This is what the Nour Party called for on July 2, and sought from former president Mohamed Morsi. Early presidential elections were a key demand among the many Egyptians who took to the streets en masse starting on June 30, prior to Morsi’s removal. With the dramatic change of path, early presidential elections, however, were no longer an option.
As the roadmap moved forward, one of the most significant issues confronting a lack of national consensus was also key to adhering to the predetermined progress of the roadmap. The members of the constituent assembly tasked with amending the constitution were unable to come to an understanding on the electoral system to be used in the next parliamentary elections, after which the entire process was to be sealed with free and fair presidential elections, restoring Egypt’s democratic path.
In order to prove, at the very least, a commitment to the partners of the roadmap, the interim government must take steps to restore a healthy political life in Egypt. At the same time, it cannot be denied that Egyptians are in desperate need of a resolution regarding the presidency. This is precisely what strengthens the argument among those who are calling for early presidential elections.
Going one step further, I can say that among the people who participated in the referendum on January 14 and 15, it is likely that the majority who voted ‘yes’ were voting in favour of the roadmap first, before voting in favour of the constitution. They implicitly voted for early presidential elections, with many even voting implicitly for one specific candidate who has gained public support since July 3. Posters everywhere campaigning for a yes vote bearing General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s photo are a perfect example of the conflation of presidential elections and the referendum, and an indication of support for his candidacy among some.