Home >> OP-ED

Democracy no panacea for Egypt’s deep woes

By Zhang Yi Source:Global Times Published: 2013-7-1 23:58:01

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptian people rallied in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt Sunday in a bid to unseat President Mohamed Morsi, one year to the day after his inauguration as the country's first democratically elected president.

Morsi's troubled first year in power has been tainted by constant domestic political unrest and a sinking economy. Since early 2011, the Arab Spring that swept the Middle East has not brought sunshine to the Egyptian public. Rather, they have felt disappointed as promises fell through.

Two years after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian public mood, however, is increasingly negative, according to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

Only 30 percent of Egyptians think their country is headed in the right direction, down from 53 percent last year and 65 percent in 2011. With an unemployment rate of 13.2 percent, representing an all time high in recent years, around three quarters say the economy is in bad shape, and optimism about the country's economic prospects has declined sharply.

In the eyes of many people, Sunday's protest was the continuation of the revolution started more than two years ago. Although they toppled the regime of the last dictator, Mubarak, the new government still follows the fashion of its predecessor in terms of politics, social welfare and religion. Morsi failed to live up to his people's expectations, despite the fact he was elected democratically.

Democracy is generally believed to be the direction of world politics. But due to complexities in the Middle East such as different religious factions and a lack of checks and balances in each country, the side effects of democracy are unavoidable.

Democracy has clashed with revolution-scarred Egypt, because the society hasn't maturely developed in terms of the economy and people's livelihoods. Even the political parties, pillars of a democratic government of the people, only object to changes made by the ruling party for the sake of objection, rather than leading the country. If the public is always lost in disorder and unrest, their long respected democracy will only turn to disillusion.

In Egypt, where economic development and stability have stalled, even toppling the first democratically elected government won't be a solution to these problems. It is still its people who will suffer and must find a way out.

Still, the Pew research shows that most Egyptians believe democracy is still the best form of government and that they call for key democratic principles and institutions.

But democracy does not exist to be worshipped. It must be practical and push forward social progress. It should fit into reality and seek systematic breakthroughs between public opinion and power.

Posted in: Observer