Egypt’s Insta-Democracy

Interim President Adly Mansour has announced that a new constitution will be drafted and voted on within the next five months and that parliamentary elections will follow soon thereafter. Nathan Brown thinks the declaration “will set off more political battles than it will resolve”:

Start with a constitutional declaration written in secret and dropped on a population that, still basking in post-revolutionary goodwill, is not reading the fine print. Then add a considerable measure of vagueness, an extremely rushed timetable, critical gaps and loopholes, and a promise that everyone gets a seat at a table but not much of a guarantee that anybody listens to what is said at that table: The generals are clearly calling the shots for the short term, but there’s just enough opacity, and a dose of influence for civilian officials and politicians, that it’s not clear where the real responsibility lies.

Reward those who cut deals with the military or security apparatus, but also allow those who missed out on cutting a deal to decry the very idea of such deals. Add in measures of repression, xenophobia, media restrictions and harassment, and the postponement of all reform questions. Use state media in a blatantly partisan way. And subject Egyptians to a rapid series of elections so that, as soon as they’re done with one round of balloting, they are called to vote on the next.

Allahpundit wonders if the Brotherhood will eventually play ball:

The timetable doesn’t give the Muslim Brotherhood and its political allies much time to choose whether to participate in electoral politics or sit out and hope that their absence will impact the validity of the results.  They should know, however, that this trick rarely works; usually the sitters end up isolated and delegitimized as everyone else moves on from the past.  If the military can keep a lid on further outbreaks of violence, the Muslim Brotherhood will have little choice but to participate — which means it will be in their interests to see violence flare up and derail the elections.  That’s why the issue of who started the shooting this time will be secondary to whether it starts up again, and who starts the violence in the future.

Meanwhile, Juan Cole unpacks the interim constitution:

The third paragraph says that the economic system is based on social justice and that no one shall be exempt from paying taxes (US corporations wouldn’t like that provision).

Para. 4 says that citizens are equal before the law and shall not be discriminated against on the grounds of gender (al-jins), origin, race (naw`), language, religion or doctrine. The 2012 constitution did not guarantee equality before the law for women.

Para. 5 says that the private lives of citizens are sacrosanct and protected by the law, and that correspondence, whether mail or electronic, and telephone conversations, and other means of communication, are all sacrosanct and their secrecy is guaranteed except by the issuance of a warrant by a judge, for a limited period of time and in accordance with the law. (This one is now in advance of the practice in the United States).

It also guarantees against arbitrary arrest (which is hypocritical since the military is rounding up Muslim Brothers not known to have committed a crime).