Egypt Headed to Constitutional Showdown Thursday

The Muslim Brotherhood vs. secular coalitions and political activists


At 10 a.m. in Cairo tomorrow (3 a.m. Eastern Standard Time), Egypt's battle between Islamists and a loose coalition of secular politicians and political activists over the country's new constitution looks set to come to a head.

The Muslim Brotherhood announced that the country's constituent assembly will hold an up or down vote then on a new draft constitution that has roiled Egyptian politics for months. If it passes a body that appears packed with Islamist politicians, most of those from the Brotherhood, the constitution will then be put to a national referendum. One caveat is that, in the coinage of political scientist Marc Lynch, Egyptian politics since Mubarak have resembled Calvinball, with rules and deadlines and statements shifting constantly.