Is the Egyptian democratic experiment over?

The army has oust Morsi and Adil Mansour has been installed to oversea a technocratic government. The military has said that new elections will take place, but no timetable has been established and it is difficult to see how a new process that doesn’t deliver the Muslim Brotherhood can be established.

What is becoming clear is that the Egyptian army have undertaken a coup. This is less on behalf of the protesters in the square, and much more a seizure of power away from the Muslim Brotherhood’s politically problematic strategy of trying to cut the military out. The demonstrations were a clear show of how the populous within Egypt’s main cities withdrew their consent of democratic legitimacy. However, the Egyptian military is unlikely to allow a full democratic process to emerge in the short to medium term. Why go through the same process again? However, this sets the stage for a far more violent confrontation in the future. Egyptians have a taste for protest and want a democratic system, but with the military in power this puts liberal powers at odds with those who control the means of force.

One needs to be cautious here of course. It is not clear that Egypt’s liberals are democratic. They have not abided by the democratic system established over the last two years. This is a problem as one wonders where progressives in Egyptian politics sit? If liberal forces don’t buy into the democratic process, why will Islamist forces? As such, we see a division of three separate main forces with competing interests – liberals predominantly in cities, Islamists with strong holds in the countryside and the military which is a mixed force but led by those with strong economic interests. This has the makings of nothing short of a civil war. This is unlikely however, if the military plays its hand swiftly and correctly to return some form of democratic legitimacy – albeit by gerrymandering the result.

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