Those who oppose the appointment of new Prime Minister Hisham Qandil come from a genetically dictatorial background which assumes that the head of a government has to be a celebrity who appears all the time in satellite channels and attends all sorts of seminars and conferences.
The majority of the alleged liberals have fallen into the same trap. For example, when Dr. Wahid Abdel Maguid was asked about the choice of unknown ministers in the new cabinet, he replied sarcastically, and rather resentfully, “Is the prime minister himself known to start with?”
Since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, political dynamics in Egypt have offered insight into how far the elite has been affected by a lack of democracy since the July 23, 1952 Revolution. These are generations that were raised in the era of the one and only charismatic leader, the prime minister who is inspired by the president and walks in his footsteps, and the minister with whom shaking hands was a far-fetched dream.
Many members of the political and cultural elite in Egypt carry within them the genes of 60 years of dictatorship and military rule. They do not realize that a president had the right to appoint a prime minister from his party which backed him to win the elections, but he didn’t because he wanted to keep the promises he gave during his electoral campaign. He also had every right to choose all ministers from his party, but he didn’t and only chose five to head service ministries rather than the strategic ones. They objected to those five ministers and to the beard of the prime minister who does not belong to any religious or political party. Some called him “Brotherhood in disguise” and others claimed him to be Salafi while several people criticized him for praying in the mosque among ordinary people.
When President Mohammed Mursi paid tribute to former Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri and appointed him his advisor, they also criticized him. The wondered how the president could do that with the same person his party had wanted to oust a while ago. This is a naive argument whose supporters cannot differentiate between the head of a state and the chairman of a party. A head of state makes decisions based on calculations that take into consideration the bigger picture for he is at the top of the decision-making process on both the political and the executive levels. The chairman of a party serves the interests of this party and which mainly revolve around coming to power. Dictatorial genes drove several liberals to incite the army to stage a coup against legitimacy and to usurp power if Mursi won the elections not for anything except the fact that he is the candidate of the group they detest.
They called for another revolution to oust the Muslim Brotherhood on August 24, an initiative that drove the U.S.-based Brookings Institution to write in a report published in Foreign Policy magazine that those jeopardize the nascent democracy in Egypt. They dislike new government and they would have felt the same towards all the choices made by the president, for it is the president they have a problem with. They assume that the majority who chose this president in the elections is not mature enough and this is exactly the argument used by the former regime against those who demanded democracy through free and fair elections.
Ahmed Mekki is, for example, one of Egypt’s most prominent judges but judge Ahmed al-Zind, head of the Judges’ Club and a former regime loyalist, disliked him. Zind also warned the president of replacing the then incumbent Minister of Justice Adel Abdel Hamid.
Liberals who object to the new government because it includes a few ministers from the Brotherhood and is headed by a bearded prime minister are not aware that in a few months it could be all Brotherhood or Salafis in case they score a victory in the upcoming parliamentary elections. At that point, the president will have no choice but assigning someone from either factions to form a government. Would anyone blame him then for acting democratically and abiding by the new constitution?
Instead of this, why don’t liberals start organizing their ranks and acquiring popular leverage in order to win the next elections and oust the Brotherhood through the democratic process? Isn’t this what democracy and liberalism are about?
(The writer is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya Net. This article was first published in Tahrir Online on August 5, 2012.)