Middle East

June 10, 2012

The Reality of Egypt’s Revolution: Democracy is a Process

Last month’s election results in Egypt caused widespread frustration. It has already been sixteen months since Mubarak stepped down, they have failed to establish a constitution, justice has not been sufficiently served and voters are now left to choose between a member of Mubarak’s regime and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Reporters are bombarding us with articles rife with frustration and questions about the success of the revolution.

But in an age of instant access, we seem to have forgotten just how long of a process democracy really is, and are even becoming impatient with the slow pace at which states that are trying to develop a democratic system are progressing. More importantly, we have forgotten just how long it took states that are now considered to be fully democratic to get to where they are today.

Take the French revolution for example. In 1798, the country was up in arms, storming the Bastille and marching on Versailles. It was not until 1792 that a republic was actually declared. The following year saw the Reign of Terror, during which rivaling political factions clashed and tens of thousands were killed. From there, France went from being a republic to an empire under the absolutist rule of Napoleon, followed by a constitutional monarchy that was revolutionized back into a republic, only to see the return of a Second Empire. The Fifth Republic was not declared until 1958. It took 160 years for the French to get it right, despite being armed with a guillotine.

Another reality of democracy we seem to have sidelined is that although elections reflect the public’s opinion, the public is naturally full of differing and opposing opinions. This was clearly evident in Egypt’s election results. The top two candidates only managed to secure 47.6% of the votes between them.

The results of May’s elections may have been disappointing, but don’t forget that only 46% of registered voters turned out during the first round, and whether we like it or not, supporters of Morsi and Shafiq do exist.

Even while he was being ousted, there remained strong supporters of Mubarak who still saw him as the hero and saviour he was considered to be during the earlier days of his presidency. It only makes sense that his loyalists would rally behind Shafiq. According to The Times of Israel, Shafiq also received unanimous support from voters residing within Israel.

At the same time, the Muslim Brotherhood is an extremely organised movement that has been around since 1928. The Brotherhood has established free schools, clean hospitals and infrastructure, creating a strong support base in the widely neglected rural parts of Egypt.

In a country with a population of over 80 million, and with such dominant forces such as the Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of Armed Forces present, it will take time for progressive revolutionary parties to secure large support bases, and for voters to establish opinions on those parties’ policies.

It may seem on the surface that little progress has been made, but the wheels of change have been set in motion. Sixteen months on, Egyptians are not giving up. They are still going back to Tahrir Square time after time to demand their rights. The Global Mail reports that activists are forming an academy to train young people in the field of politics free of charge. Revolutionary parties already recognised the need to come together in a united front earlier this year. This all points to one truth: Egypt may have a long road ahead of it, but democracy is inevitable.

[twitter style=”horizontal” source=”@intlpolitical” float=”left”] [fbshare type=”button”]

About the Author

Nadine Tewfik-Saad
Nadine’s background is both multi-national and multi-cultural. Born and raised in Jordan, she is part English - part Egyptian, and has spent the past ten years relocating across three continents. She began her career as a teacher in Jordan. After moving back to the UK in 2010, she began working in the Political Section of a London-based embassy, where she truly found her passion. Her main areas of interest include current Middle Eastern affairs, UK foreign policy and education in international development. She loves travel, writing, literature, experiencing new cultures and learning to cook.


  1. R


    Just it’s seems to me behind you words that you prefar the Muslim Brotherhood!
    You showed them as heros and angels, makes me think that you never visited Egypt or other Arabian countries although i know from your name that you are Arabian!

    So you didn’t mantion who is supporting Muslim brotherhood? and from where they have gotten all this money!? And which Agenda they are following? And what they are planning too?

    You didn’t say that they are gang, having some agenda from other countries such Iran, Afganistan, Qatar and more who also supporting them with tons of money to be stablished.. Aiming at rouling the world, inviting the Eupean countries and Amirca by living there and getting the nationalties also marrying foreigners and convert the to Islam and to give birth tttys many kids as they can to achieve the goal which is to make Islamic “Keilafa” and spread out Islam all over the world!
    So it’s not political at all, therefore I was waiting from you to show people’s this face which all of us as Arabian knows about the Muslim brotherhood.. Even they don’t deny that.. They are the once who was bombing church’s in Egypt and Touristic places, so how come now we makes them Heros?!?

    Well, I am not supporting this or that.. I just was waiting an fair Article for both sides!
    And you disappointed me..

    • Nadine Tewfik-Saad

      I understand your perspective and agree with some of your points. However, I’d just like to clarify that I was not siding with any particular party at all. I was emphasizing that although the two remaining candidates in Egypt’s elections may not have been the most popular choices to those in Egypt who fought for the chance to elect a leader, the reality is that each of the two candidates does have a strong support base. This is a fact that we cannot deny.

      Each party (not only in Egypt, but in every country that has political parties) has its positive and negative points; and although the negative outweighs the positive in certain cases, this does not deter voters from supporting the party with whom their loyalty lies. This is an unfortunate fact about elections.

      It is unfortunate that you understood the article from that perspective, but the paragraph in which I mentioned the Brotherhood was an explanation as to how they established such a strong support base. It was not intended to praise them, in the same way that the paragraph commenting on Ahmed Shafiq’s support base was not intended to praise him.

Leave a Reply