Amending the Egyptian Constitution of 2012: the Triumph of Corporatism over Popular Sovereignty

Aug 07

Following the coup/revolution of June 30, one of the tasks  of the interim government is to amend the 2012 Constitution.  This will take place as follows.  A committee of ten experts in constitutional law will propose amendments which will then be submitted for debate to a committee of 50 persons who are to represent the various groups, sectors and institutions comprising Egyptian society.  After the text is agreed, it will then be submitted to the people in a referendum for its approval.According to this story in today’s al-Misri al-Yawm, the Egyptian Presidency has announced the guidelines by which these fifty will be selected.

The 50 will come from these different groups:
  • 3 from al-Azhar
  • 3 from the Egyptian churches
  • 4 from Egyptian “youth” (under the age of 40), with at least one from tamarrud and one from the Jan. 25 youth, and two from professionals (mihaniyyin) (lawyers, doctors, journalists, etc.) who participated in Jan. 25 or Jan. 30.
  • 6 from the “four political trends”, distributed as follows: 2 from the Islamists; 2 from the liberal camp; 1 from the leftist camp; and one from the nationalist camp.  (The political parties within each movement have to agree among themselves as to who will represent them).
  • 4 from the “Cultural sector,” with one from The Union of Egyptian Writers; one from the Union of Artistic Syndicates (ittihad al-niqabat al-fanniyya); one from the applied arts (al-funun al-tashkiliyya wal-tatbiqiyya); and one from the Supreme Council for Culture
  • 2 from the various labor unions (by mutual agreement)
  • 2 from the various farming unions (by mutual agreement)
  • 1 from the lawyers’ syndicate
  • 1 from the Chamber of Tourism
  • 1 from the Chamber of Industry
  • 1 from the Chamber of Commerce
  • 1 from the Egyptian Student Union
  • 1 from the General Union of Civil Society Organizations
  • 1 from the National Council for Women
  • 1 from the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood
  • 1 from the National Council for Human Rights
  • 1 from the National Council for Universities
  • 1 from the National Council for the Disabled
  • 1 from the Armed Forces
  • 1 from the Police
  • 10 public persons, to be selected by the council of ministers, who should represent Egypt’s various regions, if that has not already been satisfied in the forty other committee members.
It would not be unfair to describe this process as being animated by corporatism in contrast to popular sovereignty; indeed, it is a radically different conception of the Egyptian body politic than the one animating the process that emerged after Jan. 25.  The Jan. 25 process, by contrast, was rooted in a clear conception of popular sovereignty: it empowered the Egyptian people to select its representatives, who then selected the constituent assembly. The June 30 process, by contrast, appears to be designed to maximize the power of state institutions in amending/drafting the constitution.
Only six out of fifty members of this committee are to come from political parties!  The old regime is essentially being asked to write Egypt’s new/revised constitution.  I don’t see how anyone can continue to believe that June 30 was a democratizing movement rather than a restoration of the old regime.

 

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