Egypt Votes, But For What Exactly?

Egypt had a free and fair vote to amend the Egyptian constitution, that’s a good thing, right? Not so fast.

Egypt Approves Amendments

Egyptians voted in overwhelming numbers to approve a set of constitutional amendments, setting the stage for Egypt’s first truly contested parliamentary and presidential elections in decades.

Saturday’s historic referendum on the amendments saw millions of enthusiastic Egyptians wait patiently for hours to cast ballots in what for almost everyone was a novelty—a vote in which the result wasn’t effectively predetermined.

The largely peaceful and fraud-free vote was a marked contrast to past elections and a glimpse of how much has changed in Egypt in the weeks since President Hosni Mubarak stepped down amid widespread unrest, ending decades of single-party, autocratic rule.

Yet Saturday’s referendum also offered early clues into the rifts likely to shape Egyptian politics in the coming months and years. Many of the largely secular liberals who led the revolution that ousted Mr. Mubarak were opposed to the amendments, strongly suggesting the protest leaders have fallen out of sync with the vast majority of Egyptians.

Protest leaders criticized the amendments as part of a rushed and problematic timeline for establishing democracy; approving the changes started the clock on a race they said they are unprepared to run because they are still setting up parties.

Almost alone among the political groups in support of the amendments were the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group outlawed under Mr. Mubarak, and the National Democratic Party, the former president’s ruling party. Both hope to capitalize on their already strong organizations in summer elections for parliament, which will then be charged with writing an entirely new constitution.
. . .

Journalists covering the announcement abandoned any pretenses of objectivity and yelled “Allahu Akbar!”—”God is Great!”—when the tallies were read out by officials.

See also:
How Egypt’s historic referendum could now bolster Islamists
Big majority vote for constitutional changes in Egypt
Egypt Backs Constitutional Changes That May Aid Brotherhood, Mubarak Party
Egypt: Constitution changes pass in referendum
Egyptians approve constitutional amendments in referendum
Egyptians overwhelmingly approve constitutional changes
Egyptians set for summer elections
Egyptian voters say ‘yes’ to speedy elections
Egypt’s Historic Referendum: Rushed But Moving
Egypt referendum results: 77.2 per cent say ‘Yes’ to the amendments
Egypt approves amendments, prepares for next step
Egyptians get taste of democracy in post-Mubarak era
Egyptians approve constitutional changes, clearing way for elections

Egypt has zero recent history of democracy or diverse political parties. So, obviously, whatever groups are already the most organized will benefit the most from the early elections just approved. And what’s the most organized group in Egypt? The Muslim Brotherhood. What happens if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to dominate the democratically elected parliament after this summer’s elections and, therefore, gets to write the new Egyptian constitution?

/it could very well turn out to be “one man, one vote, one time

Birth Of A Nation

And it’s a predominately Christian nation, separating from a Muslim nation, relatively peacefully, which is odd, considering the pervasive Muslim animosity towards Christians worldwide.

South Sudan headed for independence

This is in line with widely held expectations of the result of last week’s plebiscite, the climax of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war. The official results are not expected to be announced until early next month.

Referendum officials reported large votes in favour of independence – some releasing early figures, some saying trends pointed to support of more than 90% – in the southern states of Central Equatoria, Unity, Lakes, Jonglei, Warrap, Western Bahr al-Ghazal and Eastern Equatoria.

“From the figures we have so far, the vote is overwhelmingly for independence … more than 90% across the board,” said Alfred Sebit Lokuji, chairman of the referendum committee covering Central Equatoria state, which includes the southern capital, Juba.

See also:
Preliminary results show landslide majority for south Sudan independence
Preliminary Reports Show South Sudan Will Be Its Own Nation
Initial results: SSudan independence vote approved
Landslide Swells for Southern Sudan Independence
South Sudan Referendum: The Count Down to Independence
South Sudan capital votes 97.5% to break away
Split from north Sudan favored by south
Observers approve south Sudan independence vote
South Sudan independence vote ‘peaceful and credible’ say observers from US Carter Center
Sudan explores economic impact of south independence: official
In war-torn Sudan, Abyei could be a flashpoint
Southern Sudanese independence referendum, 2011

Although the final status of the disputed, oil rich Abyei region remains unresolved and a potential trigger back to civil war, the South Sudan Independence referendum is a shining example of the peaceful self-determination of free people and a bright spot in today’s not so bright interactions between global nation states.

/let’s hope, at least in this rare instance, South Sudan stays that way

Not Yet

/Michael Ramirez

Dem House vote-counter lacks health care votes now

The House’s chief Democratic headcounter said Sunday he hadn’t rounded up enough votes to pass President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul heading into a make-or-break week, even as the White House’s top political adviser said he was “absolutely confident” in its prospects.

The administration gave signs of retreating on demands that senators jettison special home-state deals sought by individual lawmakers that have angered the public.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs predicted House passage this week, before Obama travels to Asia, a trip he postponed to push for the bill.

“This is the week where we will have this important vote,” Gibbs said. “I do think this is the climactic week for health care reform.”

Political strategist David Axelrod said Democrats will persuade enough lawmakers to vote “yes.” The House GOP leader, Ohio Rep. John Boehner, took up the challenge, acknowledging Republicans alone can’t stop the measure, but pledging to do “everything we can to make it difficult for them, if not impossible, to pass the bill.” Republicans believe they may get help from Democrats facing tough re-election campaigns.

Axelrod said it will be a struggle, taking aim at insurance industry lobbyists who “have landed on Capitol Hill like locusts” and Republicans who see being on the losing side of the vote as a political victory.

“I am absolutely confident that we are going to be successful. I believe that there is a sense of urgency on the part of members of Congress,” given recent news about insurance plan rate increases, Axelrod said.

A dose of reality came from Rep. James Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat and main vote counter. “No, we don’t have them as of this morning, but we’ve been working this thing all weekend,” said Clyburn, D-S.C.

See also:
UPDATE 1-US House Democrat says still short on health votes
House Dem whip: We don’t have the votes yet
Health Care Bill Held Up by Uncertainty, Mistrust
Axelrod: Health Care Effort Is ‘A Struggle’
Boehner determined to kill Dem health care bill
Axelrod Says Health Bill to Pass, Boehner Skeptical (Update4)
Health Care Bill ‘Still a Jump Ball,’ White House Official Says
Thousands rally at State Capitol to kill health care bill
Why Health Bill Makes No Sense

/keep up the pressure