The Pharaoh's Reforms


Egypt this week approved a constitutional amendment that would purportedly allow for contested presidential elections, but it's so hedged that one member of the Kifaya movement, an AUC prof, has called it "a political trick which makes a mockery of democracy."

My favorite hedge involves the matter of "recognized" political parties and their access to the ballot. The Egyptian state arrogates to itself the power of granting legitimacy to political parties; the new rules allow ballot access to those parties that have been recognized by the state for more than a year. That appears to leave out Ayman Nour's Party of Tomorrow.

It is now up to the opposition to turn President Mubarak's "reformist" farce against him. The Kifaya movement is calling for a boycott of the election. "If that succeeded," notes the NYT, "Mr. Mubarak might find himself standing alone at a time he was trying to show off Egypt as a democratic country."

Pharaoh Mubarak still hasn't announced his candidacy for his assured fifth six-year term. Last month, however, he was featured on a series of interviews on Egyptian TV totaling six hours. What kind of questioning did he face? One reported example: "Mr. President, how is it that you know no fear?"