The Egyptian people understand democracy

More people signed a petition for Morsi's removal than voted for him in the presidential elections

by John Sargeant on 5 July 2013 09:22

The turnout in the Egyptian presidential elections was just over 40 percent. Of that, Morsi managed just over 50 percent. In other words, barely more than 20 percent of the possible Egyptian electorate chose Morsi as their man for the presidency.

To put this in perspective, that was 13 million people. The opposition group Tamarod (“rebel”) claim to have had a petition of 22 million signatures for Morsi to go.

In the face of these facts, the calls by some commentators and politicians to respect the ballot box and let Morsi continue to rule were ludicrous. The problem is there was no constitutional way to remove Morsi: no way to impeach him, or have a vote of no confidence in him.

No wonder Morsi went on about having constitutional legitimacy just before the military supported the millions of people demonstrating for him to step down. Popular legitimacy never existed.

His short tenure was marked by conflict, lack of consensus building and, with his decrees, an attempt to subvert democratic norms like accountability, and rule of law, let alone checks and balances.

There is another idea that is floated. Because 70 percent of the population are Muslims, they support the Muslim Brotherhood, or would want an Islamic party. But remember only 20 percent of the electorate voted for Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate.

The constituent assembly was stacked in such a way that Amnesty International said it was not truly representative of the Egyptian people, and limited universal freedoms let alone rights for women.

Those who ignore these things, will still point out that this is a military coup. Well yes it is. But what other legal method was there to hold Morsi to account for his actions?

The other questions are: What would have happened to the tens of millions of people on the streets if the army had not intervened? and, How would such a mass of people have reacted to an entrenched President? No one else but the army could guarantee their safety.

The people have merely won a second chance not to be let down again. Whether this road map will lead to a proper, functioning democratic state remains very much a betting game.

Jubilation at the removal of Morsi is not yet freedom, or an accountable, democratic government.


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