Egyptian president Morsi has announced that the first of four rounds of parliamentary elections since the Egyptian Arab Springs will take place on April 27-28. This, seemingly, is what the Arab Springs has amounted to. True democracy. However, many Egyptians may find themselves disappointed with the results of the election.
Given the diminishing popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood currently, it appears that the elections will result in a parliament divided roughly evenly between the secular opposition parties and Islamic parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
This scenario would have a huge range of unintended consequences. It would leave Egypt worse off than it is currently under Muslim Brotherhood president Morsi who holds absolute power in Egypt.
Firstly, a parliament divided between secularists and Islamists would inevitably be prone to stalemates, more so even than partisan nations like the U.S. The secularists in Egypt are very liberal, too liberal in fact to represent the political positions of Egypt’s Muslim conservative majority. On the other hand, the Muslim Brotherhood and other even more radical groups such as the Salafis are far too conservative to compromise with the secularists. At the moment, Egypt is a nation struggling to rebuild itself after the Arab Springs. It needs the stability and efficiency that only an autocrat like Morsi can bring.
Secondly, an Egypt with Muslim Brotherhood candidates in parliament could devastate Egypt’s foreign relations with the United States and Israel. Though a Muslim Brotherhood candidate himself, Morsi has been very moderate. Despite the recent tensions between HAMAS and Israel, Morsi has upheld the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. The same could not be said of potential Muslim Brotherhood candidates in Parliament who would likely be more radical than Morsi. After all, these candidates would have to pander to their radical constituents if they have any hopes of re-election. Morsi, on the other hand, appears to have power in Egypt for the foreseeable future so he can truly work in the nation’s interests. Although radical conservatives may be willing to sacrifice ties with the West, the fact of the matter is that Egypt depends on foreign aid from the United States. Additionally, the prospect of Egypt entrapped in hostilities between Palestine and Israel would undermine the nation’s development since Mubarak was overthrown.
I believe that in the long-term, once Egypt has a strong legal code, efficient enforcement, and, above all else, a military loyal to the people and government, democracy may be possible. Until then, though, the status quo under Morsi is the best option for struggling Egypt. Democracy should be one of Egypt’s major goals, but it should never come before the welfare of the people.