As the constitution referendum is getting closer, columnists have analysed the extent to which Islamist groups strive to pass the constitution. Several writers have condemned the idea of moving forward with the referendum encouraging Egyptians to vote ‘No’ rather than boycotting.
Vote ‘No’ but do not boycott
Emad Al-Din Hussein
Looking forward to the constitutional referendum, Hussein encourages the readers to vote ‘No’ and not to boycott the ballot box. He argues that in politics, one is often limited to choosing between the lesser of two evils rather than between what’s good and what’s bad. Boycotting the referendum means that Islamist groups will easily be able to pass their desired constitution without exerting even the minimum efforts of mobilising their people to vote ‘Yes’.
The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis are scared of the mobilisation of secular groups and the constitution passing with less than 60 per cent. This fear has urged the Muslim Brotherhood to freeze the recent presidential decree to raise taxes on some commodities.
The columnist argues that if voters boycott the referendum, the constitution will pass, adding more strength to Islamist groups. Salafis will show up saying that Egyptians have chosen this constitution and that everyone should respect the results of the ballot box.
Promoting the idea of voting ‘No’, Hussein says, will give Egyptians another chance of rewriting the constitution while standing on much more solid ground. Secular groups will also have the chance to realise their actual capabilities of mobilisation if voting ‘No’. The columnist finally states that he wishes to see secular groups mixing their call to vote ‘No’ with a parallel discussion with the presidency to reach an accord on the controversial articles in the constitution.
The delusional stability
The ex-presidential candidate Selim Al-Awa, who announced the new constitutional declaration last Saturday, has attempted to beautify the constitution and appeal to the voters to say ‘Yes’. From El-Sawy’s viewpoint, Al-Awa, who has been a member of the Constituent Assembly and has earlier agreed on all its articles, has badly marketed the idea through sugar coated statements on stability and reform.
Why is this legal expert trying to sell the idea of an unacceptable constitution and drag us to a more aggressive battle than that of the constitutional declaration? If article 60 of the 2011 constitutional declaration was obligatory, the columnist asks why did President Morsy violate it and extend the work of the Constituent Assembly for another two months? El-Sawy criticises Morsy’s behaviour in dealing with the recent political crisis that has led to bloodshed.
He denounces El-Awa’s contribution in a presidential press conference that announced the new constitutional declaration and affirmed the referendum will still move forward as scheduled. The upcoming constitution, according to El-Sawy, will divide Egyptians even more and will most probably lead to higher waves in Egypt’s political ocean. The significance of any constitution is how it unites people. The coming constitution is a sign of sharper polarisation, warns El-Sawy.