Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Egypt: The implication of voting “yes” | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The fact that nearly 64 percent voted “yes” on the new Egyptian constitution has wider implications than the mere approval of a legal reference for the country in its post-revolution phase. This comfortable percentage also gives us a clear indication of the outcome of the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Based on the results of the constitutional referendum, the Islamist trends could control between 60 and 70 percent of parliament, and it is noteworthy in this regard that the results of constitutional referendum were contrary to what the opposition trend had envisioned, namely that the Egyptian street would turn on President Mursi and the Islamist trends that supports him after his controversial constitutional decrees. The National Salvation Front imagined that their relative success in mobilizing some demonstrations on the Egyptian street – although these never reached the stage of a million man march – would change the public’s mind, as evidenced by the fact that the opposition finally decided to participate in the vote and urged the Egyptian people to vote “no”. This was a rational and calculated decision on the part of the opposition, but the majority of the Egyptian people refused to respond to them, and these are the rules of the democratic game.

The referendum has also exposed the failure of the Egyptian opposition in relying on the media as a weapon to change the point of view of the Egyptian street, and mobilize it against the president’s decrees. The overwhelming majority of Egyptian satellite stations and newspapers, in their programs, investigations, interviews and articles, were inclined towards opposing the president and the group to which he belongs. In a study conducted recently on talk shows aired on 15 private Egyptian channels, the results showed that 93 percent of relevant airtime was inclined towards the opposition against President Mursi. Remarkably, the results of this study show that 68 percent of relevant airtime on state television was also used to air content opposing the president and his decisions. However, the Egyptian people have spoken and displayed a degree of awareness and ability to make their own decisions in a relatively independent manner from the influence of others.

Now it is the turn of President Mursi and the Islamist groups that support him to be gracious in victory. The people have had enough of political bickering from both sides and now it is time, for the victor in particular, to show modesty and sit with the opposition and listen to what they have to say. I imagine that President Mursi’s decision to appoint 90 new members to the Shura Council – 75 percent of whom do not belong to Islamist trends – represents a step in the right direction. Victory in an election does not mean that one can seize everything, as the president saw for himself with the severe reactions following his audacious and dangerous constitutional decrees, due to which the country almost fell into a whirlpool of violence and mistrust and nearly fell apart.

The most important question is: what’s next? What happens now that the curtain has been brought down on the issue of the constitution? Will this also bring the curtain down on the political crisis that the country is going through? Or is there more to come? In a poll published by the Egyptian newspaper “Akhbar al-Yaom”, those who voted “yes” on the constitution said that they believed that this would lead the way towards building a state of elected institutions, beginning with the transfer of legislative power from the president to the Shura Council and the cancelling of the constitutional declarations. This would be followed by elections for the People’s Assembly and then the Shura Council, in turn stimulating the wheel of production in Egypt. On the other hand, if the opposition continues their state of hostility and embitterment towards the emerging Egyptian government, or continues to call to overthrow the president, then this means that the country will be caught in an endless whirlpool. This would cause the country to slip into a dangerous situation without any justification, requiring military intervention and the exclusion of both the Islamists and the National Salvation Front, ultimately eliminating all the major changes that took place as a result of the 25 January revolution.