In a context in which emergency law, military trials of civilians, official bans on workers strikes and demonstrations, state use of violence against peaceful protesters, and frequent detention of political dissidents are all prevalent, it is hard to look at the upcoming parliamentary elections in Egypt with anything but a healthy dose of skepticism. For many observers, these elections signify a historic moment for Egyptians and a monumental step in their so-called transition to democracy. According to such perspectives, Egyptians will finally be allowed to vote in multiparty elections that are not managed by deposed President Hosni Mubarak or his ruling party, the National Democratic Party (NDP). For others, this event reflects the persistence of a political practice that Mubarak instituted long before his demise, namely the convening of elections with a view to impose a façade of democratic openness on a reality devoid of any democratic openness. This view becomes even more compelling once one considers the ambiguity surrounding whether or not the next parliament will have any meaningful authority to advance the ambitious reform agendas that some candidates and parties are promising, not to mention the equally ambiguous question when exactly military rule would end.
by Jadaliyya Egypt Editors