CAIRO: “Unemployment and poverty alone did not lead to the overthrow of Egypt’s government. It was the perceived difference between what should be and what was that created the driving force for the country’s historic uprising,” concluded an empirical analysis of social and economic conditions in the months before the January 25 Revolution by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center.
If Tunisia’s revolt provided the trigger for Egypt’s uprising, the gap between what Egyptians expected and what they experienced provided the fuel, the report, titled “The Arithmetic of Revolution,” stated.
The analysis the Gallup report made of the underlying conditions that led to this popular revolt is based on Gallup’s surveys and interviews, before and after the revolution, with Egyptians over 15 years old, males and females, educated and illiterate in both urban and rural areas.
The report said that having economic growth without prosperity in the country contributed to the revolution, as citizens sensed that they weren’t benefiting from the country’s economic progress, despite GDP growing five percent in 2010.
“Evaluative wellbeing” which normally correlates positively with GDP growth, according to Gallup, did not do so in Egypt. In 2010 nine percent of the Egyptians were classified as “thriving.”
Furthermore, there was economic growth without opportunity. As GNP per capita grew, the people’s perceived access to this new wealth declined.
As the economy grew, public satisfaction fell as the following deteriorated: government ease of paperwork for entrepreneurship, job creation, perceived economic conditions, affordable housing and leadership maximizing youth potential.
Another major factor for the uprising was the shortcomings of the state as citizens became less satisfied with the social services the government provides.
In 2009, according to the report, 74 percent expressed their satisfaction with public transportation, this number dramatically fell in 2010 to 48 percent.
Moreover, those surveyed said there wasn’t enough good, affordable housing and efforts to preserve the environment and also expressed a decline in the educational system.
The unmet political aspirations of the citizens also played a major role in the uprising as Egyptians had unrealized democratic aspirations, the report said.
In a 2010 Gallup survey, more than 80 percent of Egyptians agreed with the statement “moving toward greater democracy will help Muslims progress.”
In addition, in 2009 more than 97 percent said they would guarantee freedom of speech and freedom of religion if they’re drafting a new constitution for a new country.
However, even though Egyptians were the most likely in the region to believe democracy leads to progress, they were the least to practice it as only four percent said they expressed their opinion to a public official, which was the lowest rate in the Gallup’s 150-country database.
Even more, while 77 percent said in 2005 that they are satisfied with personal freedom, in 2010 only 47 percent said so. Only 28 percent expressed their confidence in the integrity of elections.
The report concluded, “As Egypt builds its future, its emerging leaders would do well to take stock of its past and the social and economic factors that propelled the revolution.
“The way Egypt goes, so goes the region, and for this reasons the future of the oldest nation state matters to the whole world.”