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Revolutionary Blind-Spots: The Politics of Electoral System Choice and the Egyptian Transition

In: Middle East Law and Governance
Author: Amel Ahmed
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The Egyptian revolution has swept away the Mubarak dynasty, it has begun dismantling an elaborate state security apparatus, and it has enacted constitutional reforms that put the country on the way to a democratic form of government. What have received little attention, however, are the electoral laws that will govern the new democratic order. Like many democratizing countries, Egypt has experienced elections under authoritarianism. Although this provides some advantages, the experience also holds many pitfalls, as the existing electoral system bares the mark of the previous regime, designed with many safeguards to help preserve the power of pre-democratic elites. An electoral system with a great deal of malapportionment, heavily gerrymandered electoral districts, and biased quotas provides the foundation for elections in post-revolutionary Egypt. Though these issues may be a part of normal politics in established democracies, in the context of an emerging democracy they can be a powerful counterrevolutionary force helping to strengthen pre-democratic elites vis-à-vis new democratic challengers.

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