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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 109

Mohamed Morsi ouster demonstrates democracy is not only about elections; Lesson for others who believe it is

By Raj Gonsalkorale

Ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi by the powerful military has demonstrated that democracy is better understood by the people of Egypt than their leaders, presently, the ousted Mr Morsi.

While people power brought down the dictator Hosni Mubarak, the same power, perhaps even more intensified than before, brought down another President. This time, not for the kind of dictatorial practices that Mubarak engaged in, but for practices that led people to believe Morsi was governing for a section of his people and not all his people.

What many Egyptians witnessed was Morsi’s clear veering towards the anti-secularism agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood he represented although he promised to uphold the maxim of secularism that most Egyptians valued and cherished when he took office after the first free and fair election conducted in Egypt.

Leaders of many developing nations where some form of democracy exists, believe that having regular elections is the end all of democracy. Once in power, their belief is that further consultation with the electorate is not needed. They become captive of the constituencies that supported them and pursue the agendas of those constituencies often at the expense of democratic pluralism and inclusiveness. At times, to the detriment of the tenants of secularism, constituency politics leads them to be led by marginal players operating on the fringes of the political spectrum.

Judging by the huge anti Morsi protests in Egypt, it is clear most people felt his interest lay in promoting his Muslim Brotherhood and not the wishes of those who wanted their secularism protected.

In a country like Egypt where the choice was gradually leaning towards whether it was to be secularism or a theocracy, many developing countries do not have to contend with such a stark choice. They do however have to contend with marginal players who wield considerable influence especially where coalitions cobbled together to form governments exist.

It is a governance flaw that contributes to such situations of disproportionate power, as moderates within a governing coalition and within an Opposition cannot join hands across party lines according to their party rules, to ensure democratic governance is moderate and does not subscribe to the ideology of marginal players. The result is often a pandering to extremism.

Sri Lanka too is not averse to this scenario as marginal players have been known to exert undue influence over moderates. Moderates on both sides of politics have not been able to outvote marginal players and their agendas as party rules have not permitted them to do it unless they left their parties to join the other side.

This situation needs to change if Sri Lanka is to avoid a Morsi type of situation developing in the country.

Undue influence by those in the fringes over those in the mainstream has to stop to prevent this. Moderates need to join hands irrespective of whether they are in the governing party or the Opposition, on matters on national interest through a process of give and take, accountability and good governance.

- Asian Tribune -

Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi
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