On Monday, March 31, The American Security Project hosted A Conversation with Dr. Aboulghar, moderated by BGen. Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.) CEO, of the American Security Project.
Since the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, Egypt has faced numerous problems and Dr. Mohamed Aboulghar, founder and leader of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, has played a big role in combating these problems and shaping Egypt’s future.
During opening remarks, Cheney recalled his recent trip to Cairo and made note of the upcoming 2014 presidential elections to take place on May 26th and 27th, followed by parliamentary elections in either October or November.
“I personally believed that what you see a lot in the press is somewhat exaggerated and harps more on the negative and not the positive.” – Cheney
Dr. Aboulghar strongly believes the recent constitution, approved by the majority of Egyptians, is the best constitution in Egyptian history.
“It is not based purely on Islamic beliefs but on different groups presenting different sector in the society.” – Dr. Aboulghar
“39% of the people who have the right to vote came out and voted. This is by any measure the highest ever in the Egyptian history.” – Dr. Aboulghar
The most important point that Dr. Aboulghar stressed in relation to the recent elections, is the high voter turnout. While the most recent turnout represents only a seven percent increase from the 2012 referendum, it is symbol of change. In the 2012 referendum, a 32-percent turnout resulted from vigorous campaigning from the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists and secular groups. However, this year’s higher turnout did not include three major groups: the Muslim Brotherhood, big part of the Salafist and young people who disagrees with what is going on Egypt at the moment. This is important because it shows the shift to a more secular group voting. Dr. Aboulghar stresses that if large amount of people continue to be active in elections it will be hard for the Muslim Brotherhood and extremist to win a free election in Egypt.
“[The] parliamentary election, [in] my mind, is more important than the presidential election. This is the first time in Egyptian history that the parliament will be as strong as the president.”- Dr. Aboulghar
The new constitution presents a better balance of power between the parliament and president. Through the new constitution, the president cannot dissolve the parliament, appoint/dismiss appointments without the parliament consent and call for impeachment of the president with a 2/3 majority.
Major problems that Egypt still face are in the economy, unemployment and major polarization. Dr. Aboulghar’s party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, is based off European social democratic parties. His party believes in free market competition and taxation to generate governmental revenue that can provide public goods in education and health.
During the Q&A, one of the most recurring questions involved the media. Dr. Aboulghar stresses that after the 2011 Revolution the media has become more privatized and influential than the government owned press; however, no one media source is completely credible.
“In between this you have to be clever enough to know what is going on.” – Dr. Aboulghar
In the final remarks, Dr. Aboulghar spoke on the United States and Egyptian relationship. Aid is not the big issue at hand but rather confidence between the two nations. What the U.S. can do is provide security to Egypt and help them combat terrorism in the Sinai.
Gen. Stephen A. Cheney also stress that during his visit to Egypt, back in December, he felt completely safe and again stressed that the security situation in Egypt has been harped by the press on one or two instance and is over exaggerated.
“If you want to find trouble you probably can find trouble but you can do the same thing here in Washington D.C.” – Cheney
This is the right time to visit Egypt because Egyptians are looking for tourism.
Click the podcast symbol for an audio recording of the event:
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