A coup for democracy?
This article was published in The Economist 14 February 2011
Egype is now ruled by a gaggle of generals, which may or may not be an improvement upon rule by Hosni Mubarrak. As Daniel Larison of The American Conservative notes:
It is a measure of how strange the situation has become that many Westerners seem to be celebrating what everyone would otherwise be calling a military coup (which is effectively what it is) as a moment of liberation.
My sense is that many Westerners were celebrating because masses of Egyptians were celebrating. Perhaps it is a measure of how strange the situation has become that Egyptians have responded with delirious rejoicing to what would otherwise be called a military coup.
All the same, there are some hopeful signs. The New York Times reports this morning that Egypt's Supreme Military Council has informed certain opposition leaders of their "plan to convene a panel of distinguished jurists to submit a package of constitutional amendments within 10 days for approval in a national referendum within two months, setting a breakneck schedule for the transition to civilian rule." Whether the generals really mean it remains to be seen. But, again, there are reasons for hope. Erik Voeten, a professor of government at Georgetown, points to new research by political scientists Hein Goemans and Nikolay Marinov indicating that post-coup military rulers have become increasingly likely to make the transition to democracy.