Egypt risks losing 'constitutional moment' due to misunderstood sense of 'democracy'
Egypt is finding it hard to put democracy in place for its people as regions where dictatorship has prevailed, many hold the incorrect belief that democracy is about imposing will on losers, an act that is forcing the Middle East nation to risk losing its 'constitutional moment', says a world affairs columnist.
Frida Ghitis, writing for her column in CNN, democracy proving so difficult, perhaps impossible for Egyptians due to a fundamental misunderstanding of what democracy means in that nation. They think democracy equals majority rule and is a method for imposing the views of those who win elections upon those who lose.
Ghitis says clearly, elections and majorities are a key element of decision-making in a democracy. But just as important is establishing basic principles of fairness and justice, creating a consensus of what the nation considers fair, and then developing the institutions and rules that guarantee they will survive through the ups and downs of politics.
While the heart of the political battle in Egypt today lies in the proposed constitution, which President Mohamed Morsi insists on bringing this week, Islamist parties, who had a head start in electoral politics, are inclined on dictatorship, as under it, though brutally persecuted, they could carry their message through public services, says the writer.
She also says the problems for a democracy also stems from the make-up of the panel that would write the constitution that sparked bitter conflict from the beginning.
The assembly, which should have made the most of the country's precious constitutional moment, was supposed to include representatives of all segments of society, constitutional scholars, intellectuals, members of professional guilds, union members, writers; in short, views from all Egyptians. But it unfortunately, it wasn't so, says Ghitis.
The document, scheduled to go to voters for ratification on December 15, is now an affront against democratic principles, and lays the groundwork for an eminently un-free future for Egyptians, she concluded.