Dissidentie en hervorming in Egypte: Uitdagingen voor democratisering

Ayat M. Abul-Futouh

Over the last two years, Egypt has witnessed large demonstrations led by newdemocratic civil society movements, including Kefaya (Arabic for “enough”), the JudgesClub of Egypt, journalist advocacy groups, civil society coalitions, and other human rightsactivists.These groups have championed a number of causes including an independentjudiciary, contested presidential elections, presidential term limits, and the annulment ofemergency law. While most of these demands have yet to be met, some gains, asexemplified by the 2005 presidential and parliamentary elections, have been made.However, it remains to be seen whether or not this surge of democratic fervor willsucceed in pressuring President Hosni Mubarak’s regime to take meaningful steps towardopening the system and allowing for broader democratic participation. Egypt’s rulers havenot been seriously challenged by a domestic opposition for over five decades. Behind afortress of restrictive laws, the regime has managed to undermine nascent political partiesand keep them weak, fragmented, and unable to develop any constituency among thepeople. Civil society is likewise shackled by laws that have constrained their formation andactivities.Since the late 1970s, following Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, the Egyptiangovernment has received unwavering financial and moral support from Westerndemocracies—particularly the United States. Egypt is seen as a staunch ally in the region, apartner in managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Arab-Israeli relations, en, after the9/11 attacks, a valuable source of intelligence in the war on terror. The regime has usedthis support to maintain its suffocating grip on political activity.Then, starting in 2004, it seemed a new day had dawned for Egyptian reformers.Calls by the United States for Arab governments to democratize resonated strongly withincivil society, rapidly escalating domestic demands for radical political reforms. PresidentBush has often cited Egypt as an example of a developing democracy in the region. But theEgyptian regime is a hybrid of deeply rooted authoritarian elements and pluralistic andliberal aspects. There are strong state security forces, but also an outspoken oppositionpress and an active, albeit constrained, civil society. In short, Egypt is the perfect model of a“semi-authoritarian” state, rather than a “transitional democracy.”President Mubarak’s government continues to proclaim its commitment to liberaldemocracy, pointing to a vast array of formal democratic institutions. The reality, echter,is that these institutions are highly deficient. The ruling elite maintains an absolutemonopoly over political power. President Hosni Mubarak was elected last September for afifth six-year term in office. In order for democratic reforms to advance in Egypt,substantial institutional and legal changes must be made.

Filed Under: ArtikelenEgypteAanbevolenKwestiesMidden-OostenMoslim Broederschap

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