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17 February 2011


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After a revolution a constitution can be null and void. Then some interim solution is needed for the maintenance of law and order and the continuation of vital civil and defense functions. That solution is necessarily ad hoc. That may be the point you are making. Or are you saying that the old constitution should be followed even after a revolution?


Contest #1, the Judiciary vs. the Army.

Norbert M. Salamon

Colonel, I agree that the revolution of Jan 25-th made the 1973 constitution moot.

Whereas there is no parliament, no president, and no de jure no cabinet [for those are based on non-existent constitution], the proposition of the learned judges of the club is the ususal storyline from lawyers to argue about anything rather than face the facts:
1.,First and foremost Egypt needs that society can proceed in an orderly fashion. For that it needs a government which has legimacy in the mind of the citizens. Therefore, as soon as possible, if not yesterday:

1., Need election for Parliament
2., Election for President,
so there can be LAW - for sans constition there is no law - if you proscribe that there shall be a written constitution].

Based upon the above, either accept some changes to the 1973 constitution as an internim measure to allow elections, or face the possibility that the political situation deteriates soon [for lack of progress], with possible major cathastrophy as a result.

As a note [not that I suppport it in case of Egypt] the United Kingdom does not have a written Constition, and still managed to rule an Empire for a couple of hundred years [while France had 4-5 if I remeber right in the last 300 yearws or so].

The basic tenets of most religions and commonly accepted modes of life in history underwrote similar ideas with respect to what is permissible and and what is not, be it Conficius, Aristotle, Jesus with the 2 laws [re naighbor and re God], the Koran, etc.

Mythological Rights of Kings and human sacrifice [be it the king or others] is not accptable in the 21st century, so one needs not worry about such development in the next 6 months.

Conversely a delay past a few weeks for elections, will muddy the waters, by allowing non-citizens to try to influense or buy changes contrary to the interest of Egypt, concurrent to the [often misinterpreted] interest of USA, Saudi Arabia, UK, Israel and other players of the "international community" - which excludes approx 150-160 nations from its roll call.


Many of the niceties of governance have been dispensed with. And the last Parliament we not paragon of democratic virtue,

It seems to me that the military can receive the work of the commission working to amend the constitution, and declare it done. A succeeding government could then ratify or alter the document, blessing it after the fact. Much as the UN has done for the US.

A fig leaf, perhaps, but legitimacy and democracy have to start somewhere. The military certainly isn't about to pick random people out of Tahrir Square and declare them the new Parliament.


Whether or not a constitution is required in a country depends on the society in the country. Historically, the UK has had a stable society with a well-developed notion of rule of law, understood norms of behaviour, a consensus about what constitutes fair play and an elite that supports the above. (You could argue that it may not be so true today). So the lack of constitution has not stopped the development of freedom.

Other countries have not been so fortunate. With less stable societies, they require some fundamental framework that could be used to support rule of law and provide a basis for securing freedom.

But ultimately, it is the nature of a society, in particular the support of the elite, not some piece of paper, that creates a free society.


It appears that Egyptians believe they need a constitution. So, one must be bootstrapped. They can start with the current constitution and alter it, or they can start with a blank piece of paper. They can start with the current cabinet or with a committee appointed by the junta or with a body chosen in an election arranged through some as yet unspecified mechanism. What's important is that the interested constituencies see the the resulting document as legitimate. It will help to that end if they see the procedure leading to it as legitimate. Can the parties interests be reconciled? The military has a lot pf power to lose and a lot of means to thwart other parties' interests.

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