The path to democracy

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One would be mistaken to imagine that democracy is a ready-made recipe that can set you on its path with a decree. To tell the truth, the path to democracy is long and filled with hurdles and hardships. It is not enough, for example, that only elite groups believe and fight for such a concept, however essential it is. The devolution and decentralisation of power is not enough to achieve democracy, although it is the first on the path. Such conditions must be accompanied by the implementation of mechanisms and principles promoting freedom, human rights, coexistence and equality.

Developed societies knew that the path to democracy is a necessity and indispensable mechanism to stop conflicts and wars, which lasted for decades between various Christian sects, and consequently have led to thousands of casualties. At one point, the forces in conflict have reached a critical case of equilibrium of forces where they can inflict the same degree of damage on each other. Such a balance of forces have led people on a path to discover the principles of democracy to decentralise power and adopt peaceful mechanisms to resolve conflicts and understand the compromises needed to reach common interest and benefits.

Additionally, people had gained the ability to learn from previous experiences and conflicts, namely acquiring political insight and understanding of the consequences of such conflicts on society’s development. Accordingly, they recognised democracy’s role in resolving conflicts and laid the foundation for coexistence between parties of conflicting interests, which added value to their aspirations through a balance of forces in society.

This critical equilibrium of forces and insight are essential, not to mention the presence of the active elite to establish democracy and the devolution of power.

Despite the fact the people of Egypt and the Arab World took to the streets holding banners of freedom, dignity and social justice, the future of democracy in the region is still uncertain. Political forces have not yet reached the equilibrium needed to catalyse the belief in democracy and devolution of power. Prior to the 30 June, the balance between the Muslim Brotherhood, among other Islamist groups, and civil society was absent. At the time when the Muslim Brotherhood gained an organisational structure and a spider’s web of national and civil assemblies and charities, reaching rural areas, villages and marginalised territories, which have led to the gradual withdrawal of the state’s support of educational, health and social security programmes, the Muslim Brotherhood’s aid was warmly welcomed by the underprivileged. At that point, civil forces’ shortcomings were extremely vivid, for they were falling short at reaching out to the Nile valley and the Delta to promote their political vision and to provide aid for the poor and underprivileged, not to mention mobilising supporters and personnel. As a result, the forces of political Islam were indifferent to the necessity of integrating such forces in the political scene and displayed apathy towards their protests and callings for their rights, which were later reinforced by the army’s intervention to support the people’s demands for overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood, thus becoming the counterweight to balance out the Brotherhood’s power, rather superior with sheer number, organisation and providing aid to society.

The path of democratisation in Egypt depends on the growth of civil political forces able to foster the public sector and establish a strong foundation not only in major cities and capitals, but most importantly in the grass-roots of the countryside and marginalised areas. Unless that is accomplished, the army will remain with the upper hand in all matters concerning the nation and its people, and at least for the time being, such a notion is widely endorsed, until further notice.