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Lecture 8

POLI 340 Lecture 8: Egypt’s Complex Transitions
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Political Science
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POLI 340
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Rex Brynen

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Lecture Notes Egypt’s Complex Transitions – 4/10/2016
Egypt’s Complex Transitions
Egypt’s transitional path has been a particularly complex one
o 2011 Mubarak regime was overthrown, SCAR (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces)
efforts to manage the transitional process
o 2012 - Muslim Brotherhood electoral victory and political consolidation
Popular backlash, dramatic backlash, Muslim Brotherhood branded as a terrorist
movement, and military coup in 2013
Renewed authoritarianism 2014 present
Why did things happen this way? How did the population go from transitional elections, to broad
support of coup that removed Morsi?
o Egypt’s experience is important bc it is a large and influential country, and raises a
number of important analytical questions, namely:
Nature of the anti-regime coalition in 2011, civil military relations, electoral
systems, goals, successes, and failures of the Islamist movements, internet,
media, and politics, the “deep state”, and role of regional and international actors
o Morsi and Mubarak’s fate sealed by the military
Different transitional processes have adopted different kinds of sequences
o Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists went from doing extraordinarily well to being
completely crushed in 2013
o Although Mubarak was overturned, many of the institutions still loyal to the old regime
(courts, police, etc.)
o How did US and EU make, or not make, a difference in Egypt’s transitional process?
Anti-Regime Coalition
Media coverage of Tahrir Square certainly gave a sense of a nation united against the Mubarak
dictatorship
o Gave idea of everyone affected by popular protest however, support may have been
rather weaker in some sectors
Voter turnout was not all that impressive
o (54% in 2011-12 parliamentary elections, 43% 2012 presidential elections, 33% 2012
constitutional referendum)
Voter turnout doesn’t show mass enthusiasm that protests would imply
o Emphasized urban areas over rural ones where people might have been less engaged
Parallel in Tunisia protests didn’t make much difference until they reached
urban center Tunis
Many Egyptians may have prioritized security, political stability, and economy over “democracy
o Growing dissatisfaction in Egypt, satisfaction increases in 2012, dropped in 2013 ->
tumultuous political transition, much anger of constitutional process and referendum
Rising crime rates (police stopped working and increase in small arms trade),
MB didn’t govern well, economy going poorly -> generated support for stability
over democracy
o Difference between Tunisia and Egypt:
in Egypt there was a set of actors ready to act on discontent (military and liberal
parties) where in Tunisia the military made it clear they wouldn’t involve
themselves in politics and domestic conflict
Civil Military Relations
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The military played an important role in Mubarak’s removal in 2011 – clear that he wanted SCAF
to back him, but military believe his was a liability
o Sense of national role, fears of internal divisions, collective self-interest (especially of
senior officer corps)
Managing the transition rather than being swept away from it, formation of
SCAF as self-interested “referee” of the political transition
o Political actors were willing to collaborate with military in own self-interest -> military
key role in removing Mubarak
Military in Egypt has always had a sense that it has a national role (Nasser/Sadat/Mubarak)
regime all brought in by the military
o Against external, and internal threats it doesn’t like
No history in Tunisia of military seeing itself as a special, unique actor
2011 Military fearful because it was worried if it pushed things it would fall apart internally
o Problem with a conscript army it is compromised of the young people who want change
in the government
Had the military suppressed protests, it might have collapsed units might have
mutinied
o Had a lot of collective self interest in preserving status quo military is the single largest
economic actor in Egypt
Owns many things in the name of national security, generates profit
Many benefits flow to the upper ranks of the military, wanted maintain some
fundamentals of the Mubarak system
o Tried to get ahead of the transition by removing Mubarak from power civilian parties
wanted military to back them so they didn’t disagree with them
When they realized they didn’t need military anymore, military became more
defensive
o Many political actors were willing to collaborate with the military in the name of their
own self interest
Were fearful if they criticized SCAF, they wouldn’t have a place in the transition
Salafists backed the coup of the Muslim Brotherhood
Electoral Systems
Egyptian electoral system was a complicated mess (essentially a political compromise based on
the previous complicated system)
o May have slightly favored MB (38% of PR seats, but 68% of FPTP -> tended to magnify
MB seats)
o Role of Constitutional Courts responsible for determining legality of elections, were
staffed by Mubarak loyalists
2014 constitutional referendum (98% yes) and presidential election (96.9%)
show how important broader political context are
Anyone putting up a “no” poster was arrested, subversion of democracy
Seats reserved for independents, farmers, and workers, without any clear definition of what an
independent, farmer, or worker were
o Egypt went to transitional process with messy electoral laws
Islamist movements in politics
The 2011-2012 parliamentary elections saw considerable success by Islamist groups
o MB was thought by liberals to be too Islamist, and by Salafists to be not Islamist enough
People’s Assembly:
o FJP + Allies (Democratic Alliance) 45% of the seats
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Description
Lecture Notes – Egypt’s Complex Transitions – 4/10/2016 Egypt’s Complex Transitions  Egypt’s transitional path has been a particularly complex one o 2011 – Mubarak regime was overthrown, SCAR (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) efforts to manage the transitional process o 2012 - Muslim Brotherhood electoral victory and political consolidation  Popular backlash, dramatic backlash, Muslim Brotherhood branded as a terrorist movement, and military coup in 2013  Renewed authoritarianism 2014 – present  Why did things happen this way? How did the population go from transitional elections, to broad support of coup that removed Morsi? o Egypt’s experience is important bc it is a large and influential country, and raises a number of important analytical questions, namely:  Nature of the anti-regime coalition in 2011, civil military relations, electoral systems, goals, successes, and failures of the Islamist movements, internet, media, and politics, the “deep state”, and role of regional and international actors o Morsi and Mubarak’s fate sealed by the military  Different transitional processes have adopted different kinds of sequences o Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists went from doing extraordinarily well to being completely crushed in 2013 o Although Mubarak was overturned, many of the institutions still loyal to the old regime (courts, police, etc.) o How did US and EU make, or not make, a difference in Egypt’s transitional process? Anti-Regime Coalition  Media coverage of Tahrir Square certainly gave a sense of a nation united against the Mubarak dictatorship o Gave idea of everyone affected by popular protest – however, support may have been rather weaker in some sectors  Voter turnout was not all that impressive o (54% in 2011-12 parliamentary elections, 43% 2012 presidential elections, 33% 2012 constitutional referendum)  Voter turnout doesn’t show mass enthusiasm that protests would imply o Emphasized urban areas over rural ones where people might have been less engaged  Parallel in Tunisia – protests didn’t make much difference until they reached urban center Tunis  Many Egyptians may have prioritized security, political stability, and economy over “democracy” o Growing dissatisfaction in Egypt, satisfaction increases in 2012, dropped in 2013 -> tumultuous political transition, much anger of constitutional process and referendum  Rising crime rates (police stopped working and increase in small arms trade), MB didn’t govern well, economy going poorly -> generated support for stability over democracy o Difference between Tunisia and Egypt:  in Egypt there was a set of actors ready to act on discontent (military and liberal parties) where in Tunisia the military made it clear they wouldn’t involve themselves in politics and domestic conflict Civil Military Relations  The military played an important role in Mubarak’s removal in 2011 – clear that he wanted SCAF to back him, but military believe his was a liability o Sense of national role, fears of internal divisions, collective self-interest (especially of senior officer corps)  Managing the transition rather than being swept away from it, formation of SCAF as self-interested “referee” of the political transition o Political actors were willing to collaborate with military in own self-interest -> military key role in removing Mubarak  Military in Egypt has always had a sense that it has a national role (Nasser/Sadat/Mubarak) regime all brought in by the military o Against external, and internal threats it doesn’t like  No history in Tunisia of military seeing itself as a special, unique actor  2011 – Military fearful because it was worried if it pushed things it would fall apart internally o Problem with a conscript army – it is compromised of the young people who want change in the government  Had the military suppressed protests, it might have collapsed – units might have mutinied o Had a lot of collective self interest in preserving status quo – military is the single largest economic actor in Egypt  Owns many things in the name of national security, generates profit  Many benefits flow to the upper ranks of the military, wanted maintain some fundamentals of the Mubarak system o Tried to get ahead of the transition by removing Mubarak from power – civilian parties wanted military to back them so they didn’t disagree with them  When they realized they didn’t need military anymore, military became more defensive o Many political actors were willing to collaborate with the military in the name of their own self interest  Were fearful if they criticized SCAF, they wouldn’t have a place in the transition – Salafists backed the coup of the Muslim Brotherhood Electoral Systems  Egyptian electoral system was a complicated mess (essentially a political compromise based on the previous complicated system) o May have slightly favored MB (38% of PR seats, but 68% of FPTP -> tended to magnify MB seats) o Role of Constitutional Courts – responsible for determining legality of elections, were staffed by Mubarak loyalists  2014 constitutional referendum (98% yes) and presidential election (96.9%) show how important broader political context are  Anyone putting up a “no” poster was arrested, subversion of democracy  Seats reserved for independents, farmers, and workers, without any clear definition of what an independent, farmer
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