Egyptian Constitution

As shock and awe night arrives for Libya, let us not lose sight of what’s going on in Egypt and elsewhere.  Saleh (Yemen) made the kind of ridiculous public statement about the mass murder of demonstrators that one expects from an out-of-touch autocrat.  Further proof, if any were needed, that he is on his way out.

As for Egypt, the constitutional change will surely pass, but it will be interesting to see by how much.  If it gets more than 70% yes (my guess, in the neighborhood of 80%), then we will have witnessed the complete marginalization of those who made the revolution.  Whatever they thought about the changes (which are reasonable enough, even though they are far from sufficient), I think they should have realized the changes would pass and that opposing them will just marginalize their movement.  The MB figured that out, and supports the changes.  If that scenario plays out, the two clear winners - the 'reformed' Mubarak party and the MB - can then dominate the Parliamentary elections, if the reformers don't move quickly.

The judge heading the Const Commission has set it up so the new Parliament comes first (June), then the President.  If they keep the two-round system, it will put the MB in a fascinating bargaining position.  They can cut a deal with the opposition groups, or with the old gov't forces.  I'm guessing the MB will hold the balance in most districts, because the other two groups cannot make a deal with each other.

If the yes gets more than 65%, the reform guys better get it in gear and start cutting a deal with the MB (and they had better monitor closely, district by district, what the result in the constitutional vote is).  Preempt the MB from making a deal with the Mubarakites. The MB, as the best organized force, may well cut localized deals, to ensure itself a position of strength - not necessarily a majority, which may be unattainable, but a group of deputies large enough to prevent any substantive action without their support - in the new Parliament.

Ok, reformers, how about a simple deal?  In a district in which the No gets 10 percentage points or more greater than the national average, the reformers get to run the joint candidate; in a district in which the No gets 20% or less of the vote, the joint candidate comes from the MB; in the districts between those figures, both groups run candidates in round one and the top vote-getter between them gets to run in round two.  Just a suggestion.

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