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2.27.2011

Egypt's amendments announced

Egypt's eight-member committee charged with drafting constitutional amendments has announced their proposals. Originally tasked with modifying six provisions, they instead called for eight amendments. [An excellent discussion of the issues at stake, featuring our contributor Tamir Moustafa, can be found here. and his analysis of the amendments is here.]

As reported in the press, the proposals include: (1) modification of Article 75 to guarantee that Egypt’s president cannot be married to a non-Egyptian; (2) a change to Article 76 to ease restrictions on presidential nominations, including allowing public nominations by 30,000 citizens; (3)a new limit of two presidential terms of four years each in Article 77 (Mubarak served five terms of six years); (4) an amendment to Article 88 to allow full judicial oversight of elections during the entire electoral process, essentially reversing a 2007 amendment; (5) an amendment to Article 89 to provide for a new constitution after the next election; (6) an introduction in Article 93 of the Constitutional Court as the body responsible for determining the validity of parliamentary membership, replacing the self-dealing of parliament that had sustained Mubarak's regime; (7) an amendment to Article 139 to require the president to appoint a Vice President within the first two months of coming to office; a revision to Article 148, pertaining to the State of Emergency, requiring a public referendum for emergencies of over six months; and (8) the abolition of Article 179 on terrorism.

3 comments:

  1. These amendments are extremely minimal.

    Note that the important sequence of presidential and parliamentary (constituent assembly) elections is not regulated. This means that presidentialism is pre-programmed in the scheme.

    they have also ommitted amending the amendment rule, and thereby providing for their own condition of ratification. It is now unclear, and up to the Supreme Council of the Military for example whether the amendments will be voted on one by one (Hungary 1989) or together (disastrously: Turkey 2010). Admittedly, it may not make much difference for these 8. But the weakness of the drafters is thereby illustrated all the same.

    The whole scheme smells of regime preservation, something to be expected in a coup within a revolution. It may not work of course....

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  2. It also strikes me as an example of "aversive" drafting. They are, somewhat naturally, focused on fixing yesterday's problems rather than tomorrows. But whatever challenges lie ahead, they are not likely to be the same as those posed by Mubarak.

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  3. I agree that these reforms are rather minimal, though I am not sure that more could really have been accomplished by such a small body in such a short period of time and be acceptable to a broad range of Egyptians (and the military).

    The term limit provision has the potential to be rather important. Even in a rather autocratic country like Russia, it has forced a powerful charismatic leader to at least formally relinquish the reins of power. Thus, it is at least a mild limitation on the power of the president.

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