When analyzing the political environment in Egypt one of the most important questions one would ask refers to the political regime of Egypt. This paper is focused on presenting the level of democratization in Egypt by analyzing the latest elections that took place in Egypt in 2005. Elections are a very significant indicator of the level of democratization of a country and this is why the research of this paper was focused on elections.
Democracy is seen by Western countries as the best governing alternative as it guarantees equality and freedom to every citizen. The level of democratization of a country is a strong indicator of how developed that country is and its position in international politics is greatly influenced by the level of democratization. In international politics, democracy is strong indicator of the values that a country respects and often democratic countries are seen as partners of the West considering their common respect for the values of equality and freedom.
The respect of human rights and of principles of equality show how developed a country is and the level of development is closely linked to the level of democratization. Elections represent a democratic practice that allows citizens to choose their representatives and freedom of elections is a guarantee of the freedom that each citizen has to chose and be chosen. Freedom of elections is an indicator of the political freedom of a country and of the level of democratization of that country. Based on this argument, this paper analyzes the latest elections in Egypt and how free and fair they were, arguing that the level of democratization of Egypt can be determined after analyzing its elections.
Political analysts characterize Egypt as a limited democracy after taking into consideration the fact that only some parties are allowed to participate in elections. As mentioned previously, the freedom to choose and be chosen is a strong indicator of the level of democratization of a country. Analyzing the elections in Egypt in the past decades, one would see that there were relatively few changes in the political environment and the absence of alternation in government shows that the election process is not as free as shown by the government. Political alternation in government is a natural phenomenon and the lack of it can be a sign of a less democratic electoral process.
Egypt has proved to be dedicated to becoming a democracy and it has made great advances in the past decades, showing its commitment to democracy and its principles. Along with the determination to become a democracy came the success in becoming a more developed nation, Egypt being currently on the path to development and being one of the most powerful African countries. There is no doubt that Egypt will eventually become a complete democracy and its progress can not be denied, but there are certain aspects that must be corrected, particularly in the political sphere.
Although the political system in Egypt is divided into four parts (president, cabinet, legislature and court system), power is concentrated into the hands of the president, which is elected for a term of six years. The president has the power to dissolve the other three institutions and this concentration of power and the lack of control of the president by other governmental institutions s highly undemocratic. The president also appoints the governors of the 26 Egyptian governorates, which grants him great powers over local government as well.
The Arab Socialist Union represents the greatest political force in Egypt and from 1962 to 1976, it was the only legal political party. After 1976, other parties were allowed on the political scene, but not all parties were allowed. The political scene remains controlled as there are political groups that are not allowed to participate in elections. Considering this situation, the results of the 2005 elections represented no surprise for the Egyptian electorate. However, the progress made by the Muslim Brotherhood, a militant islamist group, can be an indicator of the desire for change of the Egyptian electorate.
The results of the 2005 elections held little surprises, as President Hosni Mubarak was once again elected president. Mubarak is in his late seventies and has been the president of Egypt since 1981. His victory, although reassuring for the Western allies of Egypt, especially U.S., shows that there is little room for change in Egyptian politics. Mubarak won the elections in September 2005 with almost 85% of the vote, followed by Ayman Nour, the most significant member of the opposition and the leader of the opposition party al-Ghad, which only gathered less that 8% of the vote. The third candidate in the Presidential race was Noman Gamaa, of the al-Wafd party, managed to achieve less than 3% of the vote. Considering the great differences between the candidates, questioning the fairness of the 2005 elections is only natural.
The political situation in Egypt is not at all relaxed and stabile, especially after the attacks conducted by radical islamists in Shram-el-Sheik in 2005. The main threat seen by western countries is that islamist groups can gather the support of the majority of the population and therefore come to power in a democratic way. But this is the risk of democracy and not following the will of the people represents a breaking the main principles of democracy. It is the fear that radical islamist groups will come to power in Egypt, as it happened in Iran, that makes western democracies less focused on ensuring and demanding more democratic elections.
The 2005 elections, although free, were controlled by the government, which made it incredibly difficult for other presidential candidates to conduct their campaign. There were so many obstacles that residential candidates had to cross, that it is quite surprising that the other two presidential candidates managed to achieve these scores. One of the obstacles in the path of presidential candidates was that they had to gain approval of sixty-five members of parliament, which is two-thirds controlled by the party of President Mubarak. Besides these administrative obstacles, presidential challengers found it difficult to send their electoral messages in a state with relatively free press, but still state controlled. This is why the scores reached by these two candidates are surprising and show the desire of the population for change and political diversity.
Besides the daily propaganda made for Mubarak in newspapers and on television and the restriction of the access of other candidates to these means of communication, the electoral process itself is questioned after Mubarack refused outside monitoring of the elections. Some monitoring groups were eventually permitted to participate in the election process, but they were announced only after the elections already begun and they even reported that they were beaten and brutalized by the police. The same kind of treatment was reported by opposition representatives. Opposing presidential candidates claimed after the elections that votes were stolen from them and that the elections were dominated by fraud in the benefit of President Mubarack.
The claims of fraud were ignored and nothing changed as elections finished. This shows that Egypt is still away from becoming a true democracy, in which the electoral process is the fundament of the political system. The overwhelming victory of President Mubarack is highly debatable considering the undemocratic practices that led to it. Egypt seems unable to achieve a higher level of democracy and to break away from the characteristics of an autocratic regime.
Almost any opposition to President Mubarak is forbidden and opposants often face imprisonment. However, it seems that it is increasingly harder for the government to control protestants as their number is increasing and their protests are becoming more and more public. Egypt is not yet a democracy considering the highly undemocratic practices that were revealed once again during the elections in 2005. But the fact that there…