Editorial: Democracy á la Egypt
The win for Mohammad Morsi in the Egyptian presidential runoff election is a victory for all Egyptian people. He may have won by a small margin — 4 percent separated him from his rival Ahmad Shafik — and he may have represented the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in the campaign, but once installed, he becomes the president of all Egyptians.
Morsi’s victory was the best outcome possible under the circumstances. It put him in charge of the nation in the next important battle, which is to phase out the military from politics and put the nation under an accountable civilian government.
The military decision to dissolve the democratically elected parliament this month reflected its political clout. Morsi will have to rely on all elements in Egypt, and not solely his Muslim Brotherhood faction, in facing off against the military.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which had taken charge after the hasty departure of strongman Hosni Mubarak last year, now has to share power with Morsi. Such power sharing could lead to a standoff or even paralysis in government, but it could also lead to a more responsible government if both sides sincerely work for the interest of the people. We hope the latter prevails.
Morsi has already made the right overtures soon after his electoral victory was confirmed on Sunday. In his speech, he appealed for national unity and pledged to protect every citizen, including women, children and religious minorities. And he formally resigned from the Freedom and Justice Party shortly before the announcement. The next step for Morsi is to form a national unity government.
Egypt is facing similar challenges as most countries that have made the transition from an authoritarian to a democratic system of government. But as the largest Arab country, developments in Egypt have strong implications for the region and the world. There is just so much at stake if the democratization process fails or stalls.
The sooner the new democratic Egypt sorts out its domestic problems, the better it is for the region and the world. For sure, the Middle East peace process cannot proceed without the participation of a stable and democratic Egypt.