One of the supporters of the Egyptian constitution said after the referendum that this marks “the end of all battles and problems.” Unfortunately, he is mistaken. This constitution, imposed as it was on the people by President Mohamed Mursi, is just the beginning of a long thorn-laden path that could have been avoided altogether through postponing the referendum until disagreements are resolved.
Now Mursi and his government are facing a unified opposition front made up of previously scattered political factions that decided to join forces to counter the Muslim Brotherhood project that aims at monopolizing power and taking control of all state institutions: the government, the presidency, legislative councils, the judiciary, and the media.
Problems started with this insistence on imposing the constitution. International institutions decided to stop promised aid following the government’s retraction on a decision to raise prices for fear that popular anger would affect the results of the referendum on the constitution. This move deprived the Egyptian government of the money it was supposed to get from abroad.
The constitution is not going to feed the Egyptian people and will never secure work or shelter for them. Those who voted “yes” today will never forgive Mursi when the prices are raised tomorrow and when hundreds of thousands of youths find themselves jobless. Owing to intransigence and incompetent political performance, Mursi will end up on his own after alienating all other political factions and turning them, because of the constitution, into enemies. He will, therefore, find no one to support him in such hard times.
The Egyptian pound is losing its value, prices are hiking, and more than one million citizens who work in tourism are now unemployed. This is just the start. How would Mursi be able to appease other sectors of the Egyptian society that he deceived into thinking that a “yes” vote will achieve stability?
The drafting of the constitution could have been an excellent opportunity for political powers to unite and work together towards a formula that caters to every party’s needs. Only then would Egyptians feel that the constitution represents them. Otherwise, any resulting constitution will be of no value since it is seen by a sizable portion of Egyptians as illegitimate and enforced by the regime.
Only one third of registered voters went to the polling stations in the referendum, which means that the constitution was not approved by the majority. Several resignations from the presidency followed and the Egyptian people split into two camps. The camp that supports Mursi will not hold on for long with the president’s inability to face the harsh reality that would follow anticipated economic crises. Mursi and his government are probably not to be blamed for these crises, but they will definitely be blamed for promises of prosperity that they did not keep.
(Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is Al Arabiya's General Manager. This article was first published in Asharq AlAwsat on Dec. 24, 2012)