On May 26 and 27 Egypt will be holding their presidential elections close to one year after the Egyptian people removed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi from office. The recently retired army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the man who is seen as the arbitrator of the July 2013 popular uprising, is highly expected to sweep the presidential vote. The other contender, Hameed Sabahi, is a prominent left-wing politician and leader of the Egyptian Popular Current movement. According to an article in Bloomberg, among expatriates this week al-Sisi won a landslide victory in a preliminary presidential ballot, winning 95 percent of valid votes cast. The new democratic process set in motion this past year will secure a free and fair election next week.
Since last July, a diverse coalition of Egyptian leaders have been reshaping the governmental body and working to protect individual freedoms through a new constitution. This process, one of the most transparent in Egyptian history, began with a ten-person committee of experts – including judges, jurists, and legal scholars – who drafted the new constitution, and then sent it to a committee of 50 representatives for debate and approval. This group of 50 were selected to represent a diverse cross-section of Egyptian society, who unanimously approved the final version of the constitution. In a national referendum, 98 percent of voters supported this new constitution. Guarantees found in the nationally approved document include individual freedoms, equal protection and rights for all, social welfare and economic rights, government transparency and accountability, and improved civilian oversight of Egypt’s military.
Why is all of this important? Egypt is about to play host to the freest and most democratic transition of government in its history. These new freedoms ensured by a democratic process answer many of the grievances that initially began the popular uprisings of 2011. Another popular grievance Egypt must address in order to promote a successful transition and progress forward is to improve the economy. Al-Sisi has recently released a popular economic plan with sweeping state building efforts, which will require the will-power from all sectors of society to work together in order to fix the current challenges facing the country.
Although the newly approved constitution and upcoming presidential elections are only a starting point in a long process, Egypt is heading in a positive direction by establishing the foundations for an inclusive and accountable government, as well as addressing the difficult economic challenges ahead.