Fixing the rules of the game

Now the roadmap is clear for both paths in Egypt – the yes-path and the no-path – which was something we distinctly and clearly missed before the dialogue that took place last Saturday.

Nader Bakkar
17 December 2012

I dare say that last Saturday represented a major shift in the Egyptian political scene. But  if we want to have realistic solutions for our cascading crises we must focus on the “final product” rather than resorting to endless debates about who joined in and who didn’t.  Every time we enter this fruitless debate it ends up by incriminating the opposition front first and foremost.  It is highly unreasonable to refuse dialogue and then to sit singing the tune “the president is talking with himself!”

One of the most important features of the final outcome is that the presidential institution benefited a lot by expanding its circle of consultations and various kinds of legal expertise from outside the conventional frame it had shrouded itself in throughout the previous period.  Add to this the notable flexibility in adopting the decision of this extensive advisory body.  All of this is to be commended and we confirm the need to continue with the same approach in the future.

Another advance that we have taken major advantage of is the fact that the ball is now  in the peoples’ court; so it is not the opposition and it is not the ruling party who will decide the fate of this country any more.  We are now resorting to the polls for the fourth time in a row since the revolution.  It is now the people who will decide how to end this crisis through free and direct elections.  Now the roadmap is clear for both paths – the yes-path and the no-path – which was something we distinctly and clearly missed before the dialogue that took place last Saturday.

No need to take this as intransigence or favoring one opinion over the other; it’s true that the word “compatibility” has this nice ring to it  - since it expresses the idea of satisfying everyone at large. But we can never overrule the inevitability of differences: it just matters how we handle and regularise such differences.  But does compatibility mean convincing me of your viewpoint?  If this was true, why then did they invent voting?

I never thought the day would come when I would have to explain the meaning of “majority vote”. But some of our friends are fooling the Egyptian people by telling them that what we have is unmatched in the whole world! In fact, we are surrounded by constitutions that are either written by constituent assemblies that directly “acknowledge” a constitution, provided that it is approved by either two-thirds of its members, or by the simple majority vote (50+1), after which it is put for public referendum.  But to combine both methods is something really strange!

One of the notable consequences of the dialogue of last Saturday was the huge inconsistency exposed in the attitude of the opposition after the noted division in the conference held by the National Salvation Front to determine their position from the results of the dialogue.  Some supported moving forward in imposing their own vision in defiance of an actually-existing legitimate status quo in the country; while others became convinced that a major part of the problem has already vanished and hence they tried to narrow the gap.   From all that was said in this conference I stopped so long in front of the words expressed by Dr. Osama Al-Ghazaly with unmatched courage and sincerity, when he argued that the issue is not about an edict or no edict, the issue is whether, “… this is a revolution to overthrow the rule of the FJP just as the first revolution overthrew the NDP!”  So it all boils down to the fact that this is not any rational political opposition as much as it is related to the battle of existence or exclusion!

This is precisely my major fear and concern!  That our differences, no matter how deep they go, can end up in division.  That political competition can end up with something like, “if you’re not with us you’re against us!”  For this particular reason I have tried to indicate repeatedly that we need to agree on some rules of the game to be shared between all the competitors in the political arena. 

If we are talking about a democratic framework that everyone has agreed to follow starting with the parliamentary elections (with both its entities) and ending with the presidential elections, then we have to know that this framework has guidelines that govern everyone and standards to which all teams must aspire.  These standards will surely criminalize surrounding the presidential palace and besieging the Constitutional Court.  These standards will not allow burning the headquarters of political  parties and will not give to individual citizens the power to detain other citizens or interrogate them and possibly even sentence them as well!

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