Within hours of Marwan Bishara’s interesting analysis that the Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was facing a crisis of legitimacy, a coup’s happened. Bishara intriguingly presented the risks the dubiously but more or less democratically elected Morsi was working against as at least dual – with both the threat of military leaders appearing as a third option to the dictatorial Mubarak regime and now inadequately democratic Morsi government but also Morsi’s own Islamist base of support disintegrating. The al-Nour Party, more extremist that the Muslim Brotherhood, was in fact central to the call for early elections (ostensibly to unseat Morsi). Morsi’s opposition to that was actually the military’s basis for placing Morsi under what’s for all intents and purposes arrest.
This seems to be an indication of the multifaceted problems that Morsi’s governance has had to combat and seems to have finally succumbed to. With a economy that’s dependent on imports of even basic commodities like food, Morsi seems to have wanted to appear moderate if not nearly secular to Western audiences, even while belonging to and being seen as legitimate because of his Islamist politics. He’s sought to use free market solutions to gain the funds to implement programs to promote domestic production, which hedges towards breaking Egypt’s bank to build a new one. Of course, there’s also the continued use of and support for the “deep state” or larger security apparatus that police the politics of average Egyptians, even as he presents himself as a revolutionary.
Nearly everyone seems to have accepted that Morsi’s government has been hypocritical on security issues, and Bishara and many others have been unpacking in detail the disintegration of the Muslim Brotherhood as a source for viable political leadership in Egypt. But what of the economics?
(This should be an obvious issue, given how many recent protests in Egypt have essentially involved squatting. It’s clear that many current protesters have been unemployed and don’t anticipate finding a job under the current government. Photo taken by Hassan Ammar, from here.)
There’s indications that the simmering economic populism that was central to many of the Arab Spring revolutions haven’t been adequately resolved or even subsumed into other political questions (such as the Islamist-secularist debate). Libya, right next door, was until recently a model for how intelligent economics could contain dissident politics (both Islamist and secular). Will whatever forces produce a new president or similar national leader create one that can avoid the totalitarianism of Qaddafi but absorb his ability to maintain legitimacy through economic stability and growth?