ARAB SPRING AND THE CHALLENGES OF DEMOCRATIZATION IN EGYPT
It is argued, historically that Egypt is the cradle of civilization. Unfortunately, Egypt has been in turmoil ever since nineteenth century (1879) to the popular 1952 revolution. All these were geared towards good governance and total independence for the people of Egypt. The recent Arab Spring that swept across the North African region made the populace too optimistic of enthroning government by popular sovereignty. However, this was not realized when they witnessed the failure of Egypt’s democratic transition after the 2012 election. It is against this backdrop that the study seeks to examine the Arab Spring and challenges of democratization in Egypt. The specific objective of the study is to examine whether neo-liberal reform contributed to domestic political unrest in Egypt; as well as to ascertain if the nature of the quest for political power among contending interests has negative implications for democratization process in Egypt. The theory of post colonial state was adopted to aid the focus of the study. The study employed qualitative method of data collection which was based on documentary evidence and secondary sources in form of books; journals, archives etc while event history method of analysis was adopted. The study reveals that the nature of the struggle for political power among the
military and the Muslim Brotherhood have spurred more confrontations other than addressing the
economic crisis bedeviling the country, which has in-turn, posed a serious challenge to the democratization process in the country. The study therefore, recommends for popular participation in the act of politicking and the ultimate use of home grown policies that will encourage Western de-ideologization of development; and shun the total wholesome adoption of neo-liberal reforms.
1.1 Background of the Study
The political struggle taking place in Egypt today has its root dated back to the late 19th century. For about a century, Islamists and secular-nationalists have been fighting over Egypt’s identity and future. Their differences could sometimes seem irreconcilable. It is not clear how a vision of Egypt as a small part of a large Islamic community can coexist with a vision of Egypt as one of the oldest civilizations with democratic pitfalls.
In line with democratic demands from the masses to their leaders which most times are declined by the leaders and it consequently spurs to strikes and violent demonstration in the country. This has however, led to frequent undemocratic change of regimes in the country.
Therefore, it is important to look at the various regimes in the country and its concomitant effect on the people. The first president of Egypt was Muhammad Naguib, he was one of the leaders of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. He assumed office on 18 June 1953, the day on which Egypt was declared a republic. Since then, the office has been held by eight further people: Gamal Nasser presided over the Egyptian government from 1956 until his death in 1970. One of the major hallmarks of his rule was Arab socialism. His focus on social justice led to the implementation of massive social service programs and subsidies: The state provided food, electricity, education and other services for free or heavily subsidized (Rutherford, 2008: 133).
Accordingly, Shorbagy (2009: 522) further observed that Nasser nationalized many industries, as well as the Suez Canal, and led a massive industrialization program. In order to implement all of these changes, a strong state was needed in what Bayat (2002) termed the statist model, where “the state controls the bulk of the economic, political and social domains, leaving little space for society to develop itself and for interest groups to compete and act autonomously (Rutherford 2008).
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