The Egyptian army just called for a referendum on changes to the constitution that would allow for a non-ruling party candidate to actually have a chance. Egypt’s liberals, by and large, called for a “no” vote, arguing that Egypt did not need amendments – it needed a new constitution altogether. Moreover, if this constitution were restored, even with changes, it would give any presidential candidate incredible powers were he/she to be elected, and any parliament in that scenario would probably be dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the former ruling party – as these were, and remain, the most organized political forces in the country.
The liberals wanted time and the generals wanted out, which they would get if the constitution were restored. So the generals pushed for a “yes” vote, and were supported (predictably) by the Muslim Brotherhood and the former ruling party. The argument on their side was that Egypt was suffering economically, and needed to get back on its feet, which could only happen if a sense of normalcy returned – which could never happen under military rule.
The referendum passed. Overwhelmingly. And frankly, rather predictably – most of which has to do with the way that Egyptian society is split along class lines and geographical lines, and the failure of the “no” vote to engage beyond their comfort zone and build a coalition. (Read more)