Egypt puzzle

Can someone explain why, given that Egypt is holding national elections next week, there have been huge demonstrations in Egypt demanding that the military government step down? If a civilian party wins the elections, wouldn’t that take care of the problem? I just read two articles in today’s New York Times that failed to address this obvious question.

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James R. writes:

I think it is because the protesters suspect that if the military is in charge before the elections, they’ll manipulate/rig the outcome, provide an intimidation factor that distorts the election, and the like.

Of course, that begs the question, because someone will be in charge, even if only for a week, and either that someone or whatever was already put in place to conduct the election will manipulate/rig the outcome. Probably there is some faction that figures that if the military has to step aside before the elections, they’ll end up holding this whip-hand.

Tom P. writes:

The army in Egypt want to create a semi-autonomous state. After there is a new constitution and elections, the army want the army to be exempt from politics. The budget will not be decided by the parlament but by the army itself, as well as appointments, promotions and so forth. This is very similar to the role traditionally played by the Turkish army (where it seems the military got its idea from.

Also, there is a sense of outrage that the military is trying people in special military tribunals for various offenses. An estimated 1,200 people have been jailed in this manner. These are the main two reasons. The first is more important.

Ken Hechtman writes:

It’s only the first tier of parliamentary elections that’s scheduled for next week. The next nine provinces vote next month. The last nine vote in January and parliament doesn’t sit until March. (See this.)

And even then, Egypt is still like most Third World countries—the real power is in the executive and the presidential elections aren’t scheduled until July of next year. That’ll make it over a year between Mubarak’s resignation and any kind of civilian representative government worthy of the name. That’s a long time to let the generals get comfortable with power.

What I find a bit puzzling is that the first round of protests six months ago were brought to an end by a deal between the army and the Muslim Brotherhood that froze out the secular-left forces. The flashpoint for this round of protests is the army reneging on that deal, yet it’s the secular left, not the Brotherhood, that’s taking the lead role in the protests.

LA replies:

Thanks for the information. You would think that such basic facts about the Egyptian elections would be widely and readily mentioned by the mainstream media. Hah.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 22, 2011 01:08 PM | Send

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