Egypt will vote yes to the new constitution, but it won’t bring stability | Maher Hamoud

The real interests of the post-Mubarak leaders have been in securing power for themselves, not peace for the people

For some reason Egyptian rulers are obsessed with marketing any political project under the banner of “stability”. In 2011, the post-Mubarak referendum on the constitutional declaration, which was a deal between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military, was passed by a big majority. It was meant to stabilise the country after the 25 January turmoil. However, it failed and marked the entrance to a political maze that Egypt is still lost in to this day.

In 2012, the Brotherhood styled their puzzling non-religious but non-secular constitution as a way to bring about stability. Unfortunately for them, it was one of the causes of their downfall a few months later.

Today’s ballot on the military-backed constitution is likely to garner a vast majority of votes in its favour, and again it is being presented as a path to stability. But will this third referendum really manage to realise what the previous two failed to?

To answer this question, we need to ask another one first: has stability in fact been a goal of post-Mubarak leaders? I believe not. Their focus has more been that of creating the proper circumstances for the achievement of other major goals. Namely, full control of the apparatus of power, and an end to the expansion of the revolution (carried out through the demonisation of young activists and a block on Mubarak’s “black box” being opened, resulting in proper legal investigation of the ancien regime).

This referendum will very likely have a fate similar to the two previous ones, but its ultimate failure will take longer. No one can doubt that the constitution will pass with a massive “yes” vote. In that sense, the propaganda campaigns aimed at average Egyptians are a waste of money. They would have supported the changes anyway, as they have been longing to see the Brotherhood and their legacy removed.

2012 was a very unpleasant experience for Egyptians, as they witnessed what a religious regime could be like. The Brotherhood made it very easy, with their arrogance and unwise governance, for the military to step back in and take full control of political life – this time with the almost full support of the masses, thanks to the heavy anti-Brotherhood propaganda machine installed by the military, remnants of the Mubarak regime and the business elite, who are in total control of the Egyptian media.

It would have been smarter for the military not to have so obviously pressed the case for the new constitution. Propaganda has been all over the country, on every street and bridge, not only in the traditional media. It felt like you could open your own fridge and find a “yes” sign on a piece of day-old cake and wonder who put it there. And it was very unwise to have those advocating a “no” vote arrested. It guaranteed the whole process a bad image.

That this constitution will pass is a foregone conclusion. It is a fact that will not necessarily bring the much-mentioned stability, but it will provide the military, Mubarak loyalists and the business elite with what they wanted: power, protection and a “democratic” mask to show to international players. We have to remember that no ruler in Egypt since the mid-1970s has been able to afford being an enemy of the US or the west in general (and vice-versa).

But stability? The Muslim Brotherhood is not a small faction, and radical Islamist groups will not let bringing down the only Islamist model, which they did not necessarily like, go unpunished.

The political roadmap will continue, the military will retain power (constitutionally this time) either directly or behind a civilian façade. But before we know it stability will be advocated again in another campaign, once people have realised for the third time that the revolution’s goal of freedom and social justice is not yet on anyone’s political agenda. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds