A chicken and egg dilemma…

Indeed it is: which should come first a constitution or elections? Should the writers of the constitutions be elected? Or nominated? Or should they contain an elected component and a nominated one? What if elections are conducted and then the resulting parliament has a majority which is considered ‘undemocratic’ or not mindful of the rights of some minorities?

It is a headache. On a related note, I was surprized to discover today how little influence the Egyptian constitution drafted by an islamist-majority parliament takes away from the ‘security apparatus’ of the State (for the Arabic version of the constitution, click here). Most articles concerning civil rights are ambiguous and leave a lot of room for interpretation.

I realized this when I discovered that the proposed amendments (for Arabic version of proposed amendments, click here) offer very little change over the previous islamist-drafted version! I actually am unclear what is to be amended, so similar the two constitutions look to me! It appears that most proposed amendments are of literary rather than profound political nature.

Perhaps there has been so little political maturity in Arab countries, due to repression and dictatorship, that everyone will end up running to the military, in one form or the other, to take charge in the end. That reminds me of a satirical article about feminism entitled: “Man finally put in charge of struggling feminist movement“.

I wonder what the new Algerian constitution will look like? And why make such lengthy constitutions? I much prefer short and effective constitutions. But who could write such constitutions in our part of the world?

6 thoughts on “A chicken and egg dilemma…

  1. Constitutional provisions for the military as the last resort is a reflection of either lack of confidence (in Democracy, therefore the people) or insincere intentions. For me, Democracy and the rule of law are not only about drafting the perfect constitution, but also a vision, a process and an exercise that is deployed across all levels of the legislative and the executive. Unfortunately, the multiplicity of the constitution documents in the some Arab countries become symptomatic of the real undemocratic intentions of the regimes. Look at the Algerian constitution. I believe it is enough to build one of the best democracies in the world. But the reality is something else.

    • Hello reinventdz and welcome to the blog.

      You are totally right. It is a big headache, but a constitution is not only a paper, it is about the convictions and the vision of the people who draft it and adhere to its spirit. Unfortunately, no such people exist yet in the Arab world, or to be more precise, they might have existed and they might still exist, but they are too disorganized and/or dispirited to do anything. Perhaps the strength of the MB is their religious conviction. It is that which still motivates them to carry on. Is there another source of inspiration and motivation than religion in the Arab world? Should there be? Some would say yes because the problem with religious convistion is that some might become fanatic and this is exactly what scared minorities from the MB in Egypt (and elsewhere).

      It is not easy for sure. As you said, it is a strainuous process and the people have to have endurance and the leaders a clear vision. Otherwise, it will be pointless and worse, disasterous.

      • Thanks algerianna for the warm welcome. I am always happy to contribute when I have time and especially when I have something to say.

        I was always of the opinion that it is the result of a strong and willing leadership that nations manage to build their democracies. It was never really up to the people. And when I say leadership, I mean politicians and statesmen, but also intellectuals with character, and who can influence those in power towards democratic principles. I always look at the US as an example with its initial population of adventurers ruled by the primitive laws of the wild far west, and Canada with historically a population of rough lumberjacks and hunters, and how they managed to build exemplary democracies thanks to a strong and visionary leaders. So blaming the people and its readiness is for me really just another loophole the Arab regimes use to evade the essential question of Democracy.

        So you are right to say that building a democracy is a long and tedious process. However, if it took western democracies centuries, it is because they did not have democracies — as references — before. Therefore it should not take us that much time, because real democracies are right here before our eyes to learn from.

    • Not sure what mean, but one thing is for sure, Chomsky could not be what he is if he was not in the US. Then again, the US are not the reference model when it comes to democracy and certainly not when it comes to abiding by the democratic principles outside the US.

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