My participation in Legacy International’s Legislative Fellows delegation to Egypt this week has included a great deal of discussion regarding what constitutes “true” democracy. The Egyptians we’ve met have used words including “true” and “pure” to describe the democracy we have in the U.S., contrasting our system with the political system that’s been built in Egypt since the 2011 revolution, which is widely perceived by Egyptians to fall short of “true” democracy. Yes, Egypt has held parliamentary, presidential and constitutional referendum elections over the past two years, but the legitimacy of the government remains in question. Egypt’s first post-revolution parliamentary and presidential elections were held before a new constitution was drafted, under election laws that were issued by the interim “caretaker” Egyptian Military-based government but later declared unconstitutional by Egypt’s High Constitutional Court. Egypt’s new constitution was written by a government elected under the unconstitutional election laws, a government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition to the laws under which the elections were conducted being declared unconstitutional, many believe fraud was committed during the elections, including ballot box stuffing and fraudulent counting and reporting of votes cast. In short, the government of President Morsi, the new constitution and the election process itself have been heavily criticized not only by non-Islamist parties and their supporters, but also by many who actually voted for President Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood candidates.
Egypt’s lower house of parliament was dissolved after the election laws were declared unconstitutional, leaving the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, to rewrite election laws to be used in a new lower house parliamentary election that was scheduled for April 2013. Egypt’s non-Islamist political parties announced they would boycott the election, not wanting to lend legitimacy to an undeserving political system. The non-Islamist parties’ objections were validated last week, when the election laws to be used in next month’s election were declared unconstitutional for too-strongly favoring the Muslim Brotherhood ruling party in a number of ways. President Morsi and the Shura Council this week appealed the court decision invalidating the election law, leaving little hope that they will voluntarily fix the problems with the election law. The election has been postponed indefinitely.
Actions of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Shura Council since taking office have further devastated public trust in Egypt’s new “democratically elected” government. In November 2012, President Morsi issued a constitutional declaration giving himself unlimited powers, making all constitutional declarations, laws and decrees made since he assumed power immune to appeal by any individual, political or governmental body. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in protest, prodding President Morsi to annul the decree in early December.
Full Article: Reflections From Egypt: What is “True” Democracy?.