Egypt Presidential Elections: Democracy in Egypt Must Be Respected Even if It Doesn't Align With American Interests

Democracy in Egypt will not come as the United States wants it. It will not be filled with Western sympathizers. It will not have a tolerant majority. It will not even respect universal human rights. 

Egypt is living proof that a procedural democracy is a small step towards a substantive democracy. On November 28, 2011, Egyptians went to the polls en mass with a 62% participation rate during the first round of votes. The first step gave the Muslim Brotherhood a majority in parliament that now the Supreme Constitutional Court has ruled must be dissolved. Imagine the Supreme Court in the United States ruling that Congress should be dissolved. It may seem like a good idea considering the conditions in Washington but the reality would be much different. 

The vote of every Egyptian has been silenced today. The voices were heard when they elected the Muslim Brotherhood to lead their country, and yet now it seems but a dream. The Constitutional Court can and should have the ability to decide if laws are constitutional or not. Judicial review has been accepted in the United States and to some extent it functions well. However, to dissolve Congress is a clear abuse of power. Protesters must take this opportunity to continue their work not simply as protesters but as policy advocates. They must organize to influence government, they must grab on to the remnants of democracy before it slips away. 

The hijacking of the political sphere is now obvious before our eyes. The military has not relinquished its power and the Supreme Constitutional Court will dissolve parliament at its will. These are the symptoms of a failed state. Power is no longer in the hands of an autocratic leader nor in the hands of the people. Power elites have become good at what they do, there is no leader that the Egyptian people can vilify, there is no one person that can be sent to prison on a gurney. Who will the protesters challenge in these times? Who will they hold accountable? Regardless of the answers, it is now up to them again. Only the people will be able to take back their country. Not in a procedural democracy but a substantive one. This might scare the United States because a real democracy may challenge American interests in the region but it is the only way that that the demands of Tahrir square can become a reality. 

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Mateus Baptista

Mateus is a student at Brown University where he studies International Relations. He is particularly interested in issues of social justice and economic inequality.

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