Monday, December 17, 2012

Egyptian Constitutional Referendum: I am not impressed




The first part of the constitutional referendum took place this weekend in Egypt. Voting will complete on the 22d.

I am not a fan of these multi-stage voting operations. They give some groups, most notably the MB, the opportunity to influence the outcome while voting continues. Thousands of violations have been noted in the first round of voting, and many are calling for a repeat of this Saturday's referendum.

It looks like there will be a big protest against the referendum tomorrow, Tuesday. The Egyptian state has deployed an additional 120, 000 troops to provide security.  Turnout has been low, at just 31%.

Low turnout will contribute to the already prevalent perception that this is not a consensus document that really represents the views of a broad swath of Egyptian society. Rather, this document is generally more reflective of a religiously biased, Islamic approach. There are certainly strong elements of this constituency in Egyptian society. But Egyptian society also has a strong secular, and leftist tradition, as well as a significant Christian population.

This development is dissappointing. From the standpoint of building a successful democracy, having a constitution that is not widely accepted by the Egyptian people is not an auspicious start. It suggests that Egypt has moved from an autocracy to a theocracy, and not toward a democracy.

Yet residents of Gharbiya voted a resounding no. at least 52.1% of the governorate rejected the draft document. The town of Mahalla actually declared its independence from Egypt, as a rejection of Morsy's policies.

If Complaints Not Addressed, Referendum Voting Should be Repeated (Egypt Independent)

Protests Planned Against Egypt Charter Vote (Al Jazeera)

First Round of Voting Spurs Dispute in Egypt (NYT)

Gharbiya Votes No (Egypt Independent)

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