Egyptian democracy and public opinion

Much commentary on Egypt unbelievably bad in its preoccupation with the alleged Islamic threat to democracy as an excuse for maintaining a dictatorship and offensive to those dying for freedom right now. No reference to any empirical research. Last year the Pew Research Center surveyed Muslim public opinion and found that 59% of Egyptian Muslims considered democracy preferable to any other form of government only 22% considered that in some circumstances a non-democratic government could be preferable. Support for democracy was lower than in most other Islamic countries. Still very clear that at free elections Egyptians will vote for democracy. A strong democracy has formed in Indonesia despite doubts about some Muslims. Probably higher levels of support for democracy than in postwar France. Why should we be surprised? I can think of almost no example where a revolution has overthrown an authoritarian regime and free elections have then be held that an anti-democratic party has been elected to power and that this party has established a dictatorship. Possibly Zimbabwe, maybe Czechoslovakia after World War Two might with difficulty fit this category. Tom Switzer natters on about revolutionary France and post-Shan Iran but in neither case did anti-democratic parties win an electoral majority¬† at free elections held after the overthrow of an authoritarian regime (Switzer also seems to think that Turkey is an Iranian-style theocracy and he has a job at the University of Sydney!), ditto for Cuba which David Burchill seems to be hinting at. I don’t doubt that a democratic government in Egypt would be strongly influenced by political Islam to an undesirable extent, but fact that populist socially conservative catholic nationalism is now strong in Poland was no reason to support Polish Communism. Free elections in Cuba will probably see a victory for the pro-American right but I don’t support Castro’s dictatorship.

One thought on “Egyptian democracy and public opinion

  1. Dr_Tad says:

    Well put, Geoff. Actually all that people like Switzer & Burchell are doing is trying to put an anti-democratic argument justified by a racist presumption that Arabs can’t be trusted to manage their own affairs.

    The joys of the imperialist commentariat in action.

    Let’s remember when next time these people speak about Australian society they hold a similar contempt for ordinary people here.

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