There has been a lot of attention to Egypt this past month, as the constitution-making process continues to move along; our occasional contributor Tamir Moustafa has an excellent and thorough analysis for the Brookings Center available here.
Yesterday’s report that the Muslim Brotherhood has decided to run a presidential candidate marks an important turning point for the likely outcome in Egypt. One way to think about the situation is as a bargaining problem among the three major groups in the negotiating process: the liberals (L), who have international support but a weak social base; the Islamists (I), who are internally diverse but are characterized by very strong social roots; and the military (M), which seeks above all to maintain its material position. Thinking about the relative positions of the groups in the constitutional bargain as a set of preference orderings, the liberals would rank them as [L, I, M]; the Islamists as [I, M, L]; and the Military, arguably, as [M, I, L]. Each group naturally prefers that it end up on top, but the orderings of the second and third preferences may end up determining the likely coalitions. The military-islamist alliance seems to be the likeliest outcome: each of those players would end up with its first and second choices in the coalition; the liberals, by understandably focusing on the military as the major obstacle, seem doomed to be sidelined in government, with their best hope being a set of guardian institutions to protect the rights of political and other minorities. There is, of course, precedent for this kind of role being played by the Supreme Constitutional Court, as Moustafa’s importantbook documents.
More comment on Egypt can be found here.