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The Arabist: On When to Hold Post-Revolutionary Elections

Author: Issandr El Amrani
May 25, 2011

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Regional analyst Issandr El Amrani discusses the reasons for electoral dithering in post-revolutionary Egypt and Tunisia.

There has been a debate in Tunisia and Egypt on when elections should be held. In Tunisia, the electoral commission itself suggested that the July 24 elections should be postponed till October, although the interim government has refused to budge. In Egypt, the debate started immediately about when the referendum should be held, although these were ignored, and some persist in asking more time before parliamentary elections are held (they were already postponed from June to September). On both sides of the argument, people have many reasons. Some seem entirely valid to me, and others much less so.

The first reason for postponement is often that early elections will lead to the return of elements of the previous regime. I can understand the worry, but in Tunisia and Egypt, where the ruling parties were dissolved, I don't think there is much of a chance of that happening. The RCD and NDP have been stripped of their assets and are thoroughly discredited. Tunisia went further and barred RCD members for running (Egypt has yet to do something similar, and probably won't.) Some of the same people (notably in the countryside) will be elected under a different party name or as independents, for sure, but a wholesale replacement of the political class was always unrealistic. I'm not too worried about it.

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