Panel 5a. Transition without Liberation: Power, economy and security in Egypt four years after Tahrir

Chair: Patricia Bauer, University of Dundee

Foul is Fair and Fair is Foul: Recalibrations of the ENP implementation in Egypt after 2011
Patricia Bauer, University of Dundee: School of Humanities – Politics and International Relations

The contribution presents results on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in Egypt since 2011 regarding its impact for democratization and security. It contrasts the official discourse of the “Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity” (PfDSP) with the concrete implementation in Egypt and relies on interviews with Egyptian and European decision-makers in the ENP: The evidence shows that the situation after the Arab uprisings has become even more complex in terms of interaction structures than it had been already under Mobarak’s rule. The transition processes have created a framework of rapidly changing actor constellations and normative orientations but without any societal consensus on the framework of political rule. In this situation, the reversion of the 2011 newly created PfDSP towards a more economic development-centered approach by the EU in 2013 is consequential in terms of its capacities to contribute to as well as to benefit from the cooperation. Though pressing concrete problems such as migration, anti-terrorism and energy wait to be addressed in implementation and the political dialogue seems to be further weakened by a currently even more difficult environment for differentiated democratization support. The commitment of the European Union in the financial dimension supports the qualitative analysis by evidence of asymmetric allocation of the European Neighbourhood Instrument facilities. This implies that currently the actorness as well as the performance of the EU not only concerning political democratisation support but also in security politics is very poor.

Democracy Without Social Justice: EU Democracy Assistance Stalling the Arab Uprising
Andrea Teti, University of Aberdeen – Department of Politics and International Relations

EU democracy assistance (DA) policy has contributed towards stalling the potential for transition in parts of the Arab world affected by the Uprisings both by lending political support to counter-revolutionary elites, and by failing to reshape its one-size-fits-all (neo)liberal script. This paper examines the conceptual structure of democracy in key EU DA policy documents. It argues that the ideas of democracy and its promotion remain virtually unchanged after the Uprisings, showing that: first, democracy is understood as involving a balance between state and civil society; second, that while the indivisibility of human rights – particularly civil, political, social, and economic ­ is proclaimed, civil and political rights far outweigh social and economic rights in EU policy; third, that the role of socio-economic rights is progressively marginalised as individual policy documents develop; fourth, that conceptions of civil society in these documents marginalise trade unions and other actors focusing on socio-economic rights. Finally, that socio-economic issues are gradually redefined as matters not of rights but of trade and aid. This fundamentally reverses the moral economy of obligations attached to socio-economic issues: from a focus on would-be democratising populations as right-bearers to their reconceptualization as morally and financially indebted recipients of charity.

Civil Society and Perceptions of Democracy in Egypt Before and After the January 2011 Revolution
Gennaro Gervasio, British University in Egypt – Department of Politics

Based on interviews and documentary sources collected between January 2009 and July 2013, this article outlines the conceptions of democracy held by activists from core pro-democracy civil society groups in Egypt, comparing such conceptions before the January 25th, 2011, uprising and after it. In particular, it draws on interviews with key activists to outline the place in notions of democracy of the conception of and relationship between civil and political rights on the one hand, and social and economic rights on the other. It also considers activists’ own views of what civil society is, ought to be, and can do in the process of transitions towards democracy, noting continuity and changes in activist groups’ own narratives before and after January 2011. Such a sketch can help inform democracy assistance donors policy choices concerning the methods and goals of civil society funding. But the particular characteristics of Egyptian pro-democracy civil society also illustrate the limits of liberal approaches to CS in orthodox models of democratization. These models understand civil society as a space of civic virtue ontologically separate from the state, the market, and the formal political arena capable, as such, of facilitating democratic transitions. The Egyptian case, however, shows how deeply interrelated these dimensions are. As such, it can contribute to debates between orthodox and heterodox models of democratization, and specifically raises the question of how to account for the double life of analytical categories as categories of action.

Liberation and constraint: the role of social institutions in Egypt
Bertold Schweitzer, University of Dundee: School of Humanities – Politics and Philosophy

This paper seeks to explain crucial aspects of the complex social processes of liberation, transformation, democratization, and reautocratisation since the Arab Uprisings by identifying relevant underlying social or informal institutions. These include norms, values, beliefs, practices, and cognitive constructs structuring worldviews, reducing insecurity, and guiding action. In addition to identifying institutions, this paper seeks to reconstruct persistence and change in authoritarian systems as processes of persistence and change of underlying informal social institutions and their interaction with formal political institutions. Ultimately, stability and transformation of informal social institutions is explained by modelling them as evolutionary processes of reproduction, situationally induced variation, active modification, and selection. Informal social institutions driving social stability and change are hard to detect since they are based on tacit cognitive constructs. Based on documentary sources and interviews with decision-makers, activists, and citizens conducted in Egypt 2007 to 2013, this paper tries to reconstruct the informal social institutions underlying and prestructuring social and political attitudes and actions. It seeks to identify the factors responsible for either stabilising and reproducing or, conversely, modifying or replacing these institutions, and the influence of institutional change on social and political processes and outcomes. It also aims to identify the influence of institutional entrepreneurs found both among the political elite and youth activists, and the extent of their ability to deliberately transform informal social institutions.

Perspectives of Parliamentary Contributions to Egypt’s Transition Process
Jan Völkel, Cairo University – Faculty of Economics and Political Science – Euro-Med Programme

The four years after the 2011 revolution have not only brought much disillusionment over the successful path to liberation among many Egyptians, but also a major shake-up of one of the country’s central political institutions, Egypt’s parliament. Shortly after post-revolutionary elections were held in 2012, the parliament’s lower chamber (Maglis al-Sha’b) got dissolved by the Supreme Court due to attested irregularities in the electoral law. One year later, the same fate happened to the parliament’s upper chamber (Maglis al-Shura) which interim-wise had taken over all legislative tasks. Egyptians are now invited to elect their new legislature in March/April 2015, hopefully ending a phase of political uncertainty that paralysed the ratification of uncounted laws and agreements. However, even if successfully reinstalled soon, observers are still hesitant in attributing the new parliament any meaningful role for Egypt’s future. Not only the overall meaninglessness of Egypt’s parliament over time throws its shades, also the discriminating electoral law that favours influential former elites over young democratic activists has to be seen critically, as it probably leads to a comfortable majority of regime supporters. More optimistic voices, however, stress the importance of election campaigns and public discussions of political topics also in autocratic systems and hope for some conciliatory effects of the newly elected parliament for Egypt’s society. From a neo-institutionalist perspective, this paper will analyse ups and downs of Egypt’s parliament over the last four years and discuss expectable consequences of the 2015 elections and the newly assembled parliament for Egypt’s future politics.

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