New Egypt Versus the Felool: Struggle for Democracy

The military regime, after having kept its cool during the revolution and the parliamentary elections, went on the offensive right before the presidential elections and intervened in politics.

After 29 years and 120 days of the Mubarak regime, Egypt has embarked on a new era. Egypt—a country with the oldest tradition of modernization in the region—had not been governed by a civilian since 1953 until the recent election of its first civilian president, Mohamed Morsi. The military regime, after having kept its cool during the revolution and the parliamentary elections, went on the offensive right before the presidential elections and intervened in politics. Following the military’s lead the judiciary dissolved the parliament and the constitutional drafting committee, as well as limiting the powers of the president that would be elected. The actors of the revolution all of a sudden found themselves facing a judiciary coup. They had two choices. Either they could take to the streets in protest, or they could ignore the judiciary and demand that the presidential election continue as planned. The Ikhwan, as the pioneer of the opposition, opted for the second choice. This did not mean that the struggle against the tutelage of the military-judiciary collaboration had ended. The battle was lost, but the fight was going to be carried on with the first victory to the public in the presidential elections. The expected happened after the elections. The forces of the military-judiciary tutelage and the president-elect embarked on a controversial political tug of war for power. It would be useful to remind the reader the history of this struggle.


The suspension of the constitutional drafting committee by the Egyptian Administrative Court on April 10, 2012 can be considered the first post-revolution intervention in the democratic system by Egypt’s judiciary. The constitutional drafting committee, more than half of which consisted of members from the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Nour Party, was criticized for having been taken over by the “Islamists”. Following this, there was discord between the representatives of the secular segment of the country and the Islamic parties in the committee. These disagreements had resulted in the withdrawal of some liberal, Christian and left representatives. The secularist movements and parties were content with the Administrative Court’s decision to suspend the constitutional drafting committee, with the Al-Ahrar (Liberal Socialist Party), Al-Wafd (Nationalist Liberal party) and the Social Democratic Parties declaring the court’s ruling “a constitutional victory”. The Islamic parties, however, criticized the court’s ruling for violating the separation of powers principle.

The second intervention by the Egyptian judiciary after the ousting of Mubarak concerned the presidential candidates, particularly the disqualification of Khairat al-Shater from the presidential race, can be considered one the most significant judicial intervention on the path to democracy. Neither the FJP nor any other political movement in the country reacted strongly to the disqualification of the ten candidates from the presidential race at the hand of the judiciary in April. Had Khairat al-Shater’s candidacy not been revoked, he would have been the president of Egypt today instead of Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood accepted this, opting for continuing in the democratic process. Other political groups were secretly content that the most important candidate of the Justice and Development Party was disqualified from the presidential race. However, the issue at stake was not al-Shater’s disqualification but the audacity of the judiciary in intervening in the democratic system so brazenly and the indifference of political actors to such intervention.

After this event, the Egyptian judiciary believed that it could exercise its power with no consequences. In an even more radical step, on June 14, 2012, Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court announced the dissolution of the People’s Assembly, the parliament that consisted of democratically e

In this article