A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Carothers on Egypt's Opposition

The Carnegie Endowment's Thomas Carothers has an interesting piece on the beleaguered Egyptian opposition, "Egypt's Dismal Opposition: A Second Look." While admitting that the usual criticisms of the fractious non-Islamist opposition are valid, he suggests that a comparative approach considering the experience in other emerging democracies provides some perspective:

In fact, the Egyptian opposition does not look so bad compared to the political opposition forces in other places at similar historical moments, such as Romania’s famously feckless opposition parties of the early post-Ceauşescu years, Serbia’s notoriously fractious opposition parties of the late 1990s, and Argentina’s political opposition for at least the last ten years. It includes several politicians of genuine stature, such as Amr Moussa and Mohamed ElBaradei, and others less well-known but of real political energy and smarts. Cooperation among many of the opposition parties is growing rather than diminishing. Last November’s formation of the National Salvation Front, an alliance of opposition parties, was a valuable step in this regard, even if it falls apart in the run-up to the parliamentary election slated for later this year. Some opposition figures and parties do have constituencies beyond Cairo and are making efforts to build organizational structures in diverse parts of the country.
The opposition parties may not have an adequate set of proposed political programs to meet Egypt’s many challenges, yet neither are they completely bereft on the policy front. When the parliament met in the first half of last year, some of the opposition parties did engage in meaningful reform efforts within various parliamentary committees, such as the human rights committee. And overall the opposition evinces a relatively low degree of demagogy or reckless populism, especially in comparison to various political movements or parties in South Asia, South America, southern Europe, and other parts of the world.
 It's definitely worth a read.

No comments: