Thursday, June 21, 2012

One election result still outstanding

Last Sunday there were three elections. The French parliamentary ones that went largely as expected (though Ségolène Royal lost her seat and the first round against First Girlfriend Valérie Trierweiler and Marin Le Pen's niece has become the youngest MP (one of two for the NF) while auntie lost by 118 votes.

The French electoral system was changed from proportional representation to first past the post in the late eighties specifically to keep the National Front out. This does not seem to be working any more.

The Greek election went as one would have expected and, truth to tell, nothing much has changed though they do now have a government.

That leaves the second round of the Egyptian presidential election, the results of which will be announced tomorrow but the Muslim Brotherhood is already declaring victory. Whether they will be able to keep it remains questionable. The general opinion is that the military will not give up power.

The Wall Street Journal has a sober appraisal of what is likely to happen in the country but seem to be under the misapprehension that there was a moment from the fall of Mubarak (who may or may not have died) when the army was not in control. The truth is that it was an army coup that toppled Mubarak not a popular revolution. Since then the Supreme Council of Armed Forces has been in power. More than that: the army owns a great deal of Egypt's economy. As this article puts it:
Until this very day, the role of the military establishment in the economy remains one of the major taboos in Egyptian politics. Over the past thirty years, the army has insisted on concealing information about its enormous interests in the economy and thereby keeping them out of reach of public transparency and accountability. The Egyptian Armed Forces owns a massive segment of Egypt’s economy—twenty-five to forty percent, according to some estimates. In charge of managing these enterprises are the army’s generals and colonels, notwithstanding the fact that they lack the relevant experience, training, or qualifications for this task.
The military’s economic interests encompass a diverse range of revenue-generating activities, including the selling and buying of real estate on behalf of the government, domestic cleaning services, running cafeterias, managing gas stations, farming livestock, producing food products, and manufacturing plastic table covers. All this information is readily available on the websites of relevant companies and factories, which publicly and proudly disclose that they belong to the army. Yet for some reason the military establishment insists on outlawing any public mention of these activities.
The question we have to ask ourselves, disregarding the analysis given by the media, is whether that is the worst case scenario for Egypt.

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