One of the supporters of the Egyptian constitution said after the referendum that this marks “the end of all battles and problems”. Unfortunately, he is mistaken. This constitution, imposed as it was on the people by President Mohamed Mursi, is just the beginning of a long, thorny path that could have been avoided altogether if the referendum had been postponed for several months until disagreements were resolved.
Now Mursi and his government are facing a unified opposition front made up of previously dispersed political factions that decided to join forces to counter the Muslim Brotherhood project, which aims to monopolize power and seize control of all state institutions: the government, the presidency, legislative councils, the judiciary, and the media.
The problems started with this insistence on imposing the constitution. Then international institutions decided to withdraw their promised aid following the government’s retraction of a decision to raise prices, less than two hours after passing it, for fear that popular anger would affect the results of the referendum. This move deprived the Egyptian government of significant funding it was due to receive from abroad.
The constitution is not going to feed the Egyptian people, nor will it secure work or shelter for them. Those who voted “yes” today will never forgive Mursi when the prices rise tomorrow and when hundreds of thousands of youths find themselves jobless. Because of his intransigence and incompetent political performance, Mursi will end up on his own after alienating all other political factions and turning them, through the constitution fiasco, into enemies. He will have no one to support him in the hard times to come.
The Egyptian pound is losing its value, prices are rising, and more than a million additional citizens now find themselves unemployed because of the chaos and fear in the hotel and tourism market. This is just the start. How will Mursi be able to appease other sectors of the Egyptian society that he deceived into thinking that a “yes” vote would achieve stability?
The drafting of the constitution could have been an excellent opportunity for political powers to unite and work together towards a formula that caters to every party’s needs. Only then would Egyptians feel that the constitution represented them. Any other form of constitution is of no value since it is seen by a sizable portion of Egyptians as illegitimate and enforced by the regime.
Only a third of registered voters went to the polling stations for the referendum, which means that the constitution was not approved by the majority. There have been several resignations from the presidency and the Egyptian people are divided into two camps. The pro-Mursi camp will likely shrink further with the president’s inability to face the harsh reality and the expected economic crises to come. Perhaps Mursi and his government are not to blame for these crises, but they will certainly be blamed for promises they cannot keep.