Here is an interesting audio report from Alexandria, Egypt.
The reporter, Soraya Nelson, speaks of the uncertainty that Copts reflect through their opinion about the results that current elections are going to bring.
Copts, who feel encouraged to go and make their vote count, do not seem to have enough hope because regardless of the results, most likely the results will aim for a new Islamic government that would continue to discriminate minorities like them.
To listen to the audio report go to: http://www.npr.org/2011/11/29/142883188/coptic-christians-fear-islamists-will-sweep-egyptian-election
Here is a glimpse to understand how the elections will work. Reuters prepared a useful yet very basic article to understand how the parliamentary election process is going to take place, and what are the expectations from the first free parliamentary elections to take place after 30 years of Mubarak’s regime. Click here for a very informative article.
Here is a glimpse of who would be running for the parliamentary elections. Very useful links: http://www.arabist.net/blog/2011/11/13/mapping-egypts-political-parties.html
New York Times: In a surprise, Calm Prevails in Egypt’s Elections
By David D. Kirkpatrick
November 28, 2011
Full article here.
Even with the ruling military tightly holding on to power, and after a mass of protests in Cairo last week, a unexpectedly large number of Egyptian people made it out yesterday to vote in the first parliamentary elections since the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak. It appears that citizens in the post-revoultion atmosphere feel that it is their duty to continue to make their voices heard. The hope, however, that the elections will be legitimate and without corruption is still dismal. One protester said, “It is like a play, it is like a sham. we are pretending to be voting.” Protest leaders have urged those in the street to go to the polls to express their grievances. The military government sees the turnout as a success and an indication of citizens’ approval of their transition timeline. The real impact of these elections unfortunately won’t been seen for several months.
Authors: Hamz a Ates, Mehmet Duman, Yuksel Bayraktar
Download full article here: Egypt under stress
Date Published: June 2006
This article proves as a good supplement to that of the previous post. The past four decades of Egypt’s economic history are lucidly outlined. This includes a description of the pre-Infitah atmosphere, the pressures in transition, and the policies of Mubarak leading up to the revolution. Because the article was written in 2006, the connection between this economic transformation and the uprising are not made. However, the article discusses that one of the major consequences of liberalization was that of enhanced budget deficits. WIth these deficits, came restructuring polices which included some fairly drastic austerity measures, including reduced government subsidies to the poor and cuts in social services. These measures were pushed on the Egyptian people in a time when there was large numbers of unemployed and a stagnant real wage. Could these dramatic economic conditions pushed the Egyptian youth (who were experiencing levels of unemployment greater than 20%) to the street?
Full article available for download here: Egypt’s Infitah
Source: Middle Eastern Studies, Vol 21, No. 2 (April., 1985)
Marvin G. Weinbaum
This paper gives necessary insight for anyone interested in Egypt’s socioeconomic transition away from the socialist leaning government of Gamal Abdul Nassar towards what was described as “free market” capitalism under Sadat. Weinbaum discusses the influence of U.S. aid on the Egyptian administration, how that aid policy changed, and how Egypt’s Infitah (opening) may not have been an opening at all.
Too Much Civil Society, Too Little Politics: Egypt and Liberalizing Arab Regimes
Date published: January 2004
By Vickie Langohr ; Download here: Too much civil society
This article provides a interesting perspective on the ability of the liberal reform agenda, which was implemented in the 1990s in much of the MENA states, to bring about democratization. Langohr discusses the interaction that authoritarian states have in the region with civil society, particularly the influence of nongovernmental organizations as opposition to authority. Her findings are quite bleak. It appears that liberalization did not directly bring about democratic reforms in these countries. However, in light of the recent ArabSpring, its curious to ask if maybe these liberalizations are in part responsible for the mass uprisings that occurred in this region. I would argue that this is the case.
“Egypt’s economy is growing at its fastest pace in years, exports are surging and the bourse is booming, but there is little sign yet of an economic revival in the poor suburbs and crowded slums of the capital”
This article from Al Jazeera English describes a pre-uprising atmosphere in Egypt where the country’s poor saw little befit from the country’s growing economy. At the turn of the century, the Mubarak administration, in accordance with its structural adjustment package, privatized much of the country’s state run businesses. This led to massive lay off of Egyptian workers. Official unemployments estimates at the time were around 10 percent, however, unofficial estimates, which include jobs outside of recognized labor, placed the unemployment rate at levels up to twice that number. With roughly 20 percent of the population unemployed, the government cutting its public sector, and reducing its provided social services to reduce its deficit, its no wonder that people took to the streets in rage.
Full article available here.
Promoting Economic Liberalization In Egypt: From U.S. Foreign Aid to Trade and Investment
By Bessma Momani in the Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol. 7. No. 3 (September 2003)
Full article available for download here – Promoting Economic Liberalization in Egypt
Bessma Momani describes how the Mubarak administration was put under pressure by the United States to liberalize their economy in the 1990s. This had come after several years of liberalization in Egypt but was now centered on the opening up of international markets. The pressure from the United States had less to do with the success of the reforms and more to do with Egypt as a strategic ally in the Middle East. For this reason, aid from the U.S. has never stopped and was $2 billion annually in 2003. The article also discusses, in some detail, the complications of starting a Free Trade Agreement between the two nations. It would be interesting to hear a dissuasion from Momani on how these reforms affected the Egyptian economy in later years, and how the relationship has changed since the uprising.