Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Shooting Ourselves In The Foot

One year has passed after the beginning of the Egyptian revolution, and people now are preparing to take to the streets tomorrow in the first anniversary of January 25, 2011. So, I found that I need to analyse the past period and the current situation in the country now ... well, I think the word "analyse" here is not an accurate one since this post is going to be a group of rants more than analysis.

You sure know that the military became in charge after the fall of Mubarak. I know, the last time you checked your dictionary you found the word coup as the best one defining this, but no, we do not call it a coup here. And we don't call it so for one reason, Hope! Since calling it coup means that we already lost, and we believe the revolution is far from being over, don't we!? I believe you also heard about media crackdown, arresting of bloggers, virginity tests for female protesters, massacres, massacres and more massacres.

Victory to the Egyptian people
Photo taken by Zeinobia under Creative Commons license.

As I said, I am sure you know all of the above, so what I want to discuss here is a bit different. I want to discuss how we - as people, activists, politicians and couch party members - dealt with the situation since the early beginning.

The Yes and No Scenarios
It all started with the referendum and the constitution amendments that took place in March. Despite the fact that we were voting on some articles in the constitution to be amended, we in fact were actually voting on something else, we were voting on two different scenarios, those who voted with No were voting on forming a committee to write the country's new constitution then have our presidential and parliamentary elections later on, while those who voted in Yes were voting on having the parliamentary elections first and then let this parliament write (or form the committee that writes) the constitution later on. We had a lot of debates then, about the two options, and you sure are wondering what is the difference between the two scenarios, right? The No scenario's main advantage was that we had the chance to form a committee with all the political and social streams represented equally there regardless of their actual weight in the street, i.e. having a consensual constitution and not having the majority only dictating their will. For sure this scenario had  drawbacks as well, since many aspects of it were not clear, it wasn't clear how this committee will be formed, it also was not clear whether the SCAF will intervene in forming it or not, however we sure would have thought and fought as much as we want then to clarify all these. Now the Yes scenario on the other hand was in favour of having a constitution that represents the majority since it will come out of the womb of the elected parliament, hence the majority will have the lion's share in it and have their say in forming the constitution. I voted for the No option as I was looking for a consensual constitution myself, and it was a bit odd to see some activists supporting the Yes option, knowing that the core revolutionary mass were small in number, and also we then started to discover the fact that the majority of the Egyptians weren't with the revolution as we used to believe.
Anyway, I am not going to call this a real shooting oneself in the foot example, and for sure each one has his own calculations, but those calculations were somehow astonishing to me at that time. 

Elections Soon then Boycott It
Right after the referendum a big debate took place between Islamists and Liberals. The Islamists wanted the parliamentary elections as soon as possible, as they were sure of their victory then, while on the other hand most of the post-revolution liberals had their own arguments, their parties were just being established then and they wanted some time to be ready for the elections. At that point those whom I like to call the core revolutionaries, especially the leftists among them advocated for having the elections as soon as possible then, they said they had full trust in people's choices.
Let me first clarify something, some aspects of the democratic process are undemocratic. Voting is a democratic process, however sometimes the choices for the timing and the mechanism of the voting process can be chosen in an  undemocratic way. And that is exactly what happened, the SCAF designed the mechanism of the elections, they chose the size of the electoral districts, positive-discrimination laws for workers and peasants, the timing of the elections, etc. Seeing many of those aspects that might be in favour of old and established parties against the young revolutionary ones, I was expecting activists and politicians to try to change those rules, however on contrary, their response was, we have full trust in people and their choices, let them chose whatever they want, and let the elections be tomorrow if possible. Which are very idealistic arguments however they are too naive when it comes to that dirty political game we have here.
Any way, forget about all of the above, what really happened and astonished me was that after postponing the elections one month after the other, and then when it was time for the elections, many activist surprised me saying they are not going to run in this elections, they are against voting in it as well and they will boycott the elections process, and their argument was that they cannot participate in an elections organised by the SCAF that is killing the Egyptians!
So you push to have the elections as soon as possible, don't care about the rules that might be in favour of well established Islamic parties, and then boycott the elections, giving the parliament to the Islamist on a silver plate! Isn't this a sort of shooting oneself in the foot, or am I wrong!?

Hand Over the President Authority to the Parliament
And finally, we've reached the main point of my whole post. Many activist are calling now for handing over the authorities of the president to the parliament till a president is elected, as we now have an elected parliament, which by the way have Islamists forming more than 70% of it seats. They want this to be their main demand in January 25, 2012!! I know their argument is that we want to get rid of the SCAF as soon as possible and not wait for a president to be elected for them to hand power to it. I can't agree more, we all want to get rid of the SCAF as soon as possible, but is this our best option!? Why not call for early presidential elections instead? Why not call for forming a presidential council with a representative from each political party? I know, many people are allergic to presidential councils, so forget about this option, but still we have many options, why choose the worst option out of them all? I am a Muslim and for sure I am not Islamophobic, but come on, the newspaper of the Muslim Brotherhood, the party that got about 50% of the parliament alone, is now attacking the activists, the revolutionists and the leftists on an almost daily basis, and you activists want to hand the presidential authority over to them, and you see this as your best option!? You see putting all your eggs in one basket is the best option instead of betting on a progressive and revolutionary presidential candidate, supporting him, and calling for an early elections!? Isn't having a president balancing the power of the parliament something good we should be looking for?

The ballot box is full
Photo taken by Zeinobia under Creative Commons license.

One final note, you can agree or disagree with the fact that some people might not be ready for democracy as Omar Soliman said once, but that who use this as an excuse for preventing them from having their say is a Fascist! At the end of the day democracy is a human right, and no one should allow himself to prevent people from their rights under any circumstances. You have the full right to criticise people's choices as much as you want, or else you will be hypocrisising them, but you do not have the right to prevent them from their choices. At least this is what I believe in. 
However, with this being said, politics is full of choices and tricks, and in any democracy some rules and mechanisms are made in a non-democratic way. Take this example to know what I mean, imagine a group of 10 persons want to know whether to travel to the East or to the the West for the summer vacation. So they decided to vote. But now they are not sure what to do if they have a tie, should they chose the team with the oldest member as as the winning team or choose that of the youngest member as the winner, so, they decided to vote on how their voting system should work, now once more, how are they going to deal with ties in the voting process for deciding the rules of the voting process? Well, so they will vote on the rules of the voting process of the rules of the voting process. And so one, till they end up with an infinite loop of votings for putting rules for votings. So, they have at some point to decide on some rules of the democratic process in an undemocratic way. And this is what I mean by saying that some aspects of the democracy are undemocratic, and this is where we should push on having a better democratic process, and not one that favours some, or at least this is where we shouldn't leave our opponents put their rules, while saying stuff like "we aren't going to react since we have complete faith in voters choices"!  

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