Issues and challenges
Despite cautious liberalisation in a few limited areas, Egypt’s new constitution of January 2014 does not represent a new democratic departure. The process of its adoption was not inclusive. Public consultations leading to the referendum were selective and weak. According to observation missions the referendum campaign was entirely skewed in favour of a ‘yes’ vote.
Key elements of Egypt’s constitution are at odds with international legal obligations and standards. Human rights provisions are not specific in many aspects, leaving crucial aspects to be determined by laws. The military has a significant role; it is not only beyond democratic control, it has a say in civilian matters – an inverse relationship to democratic set-up. On a more positive note, the far-reaching Sharia provisions of the 2012 law have been abandoned and the article on equality of men and women has been strengthened.
On balance the constitution offers little hope for eventual democratisation. Amending its provisions will be extremely difficult, requiring 2/3 majority in the House of Representatives and a referendum
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Author: Michael Meyer-Resende, Executive Director, Democracy Reporting International (DRI)