A new buzz word is being coined these days: Crowd Democracy. Basically, in the absence of a system, an alternative system is created, or as Wael Nawara puts it: “As representative democracy failed to deliver, people resorted to alternatives.” The recent call to rally by Army Chief General Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi has sent an outpouring of masses into the streets perhaps in a record shattering display of solidarity with the army and the current transitional roadmap. With solid numbers and some aid from the media machine, the scene has totally eclipsed all voices of support for deposed president Mohamed Morsi.
In a parallel world, a recently recorded and televised speech by former presidential candidate Mohamed Al-Awwa has asserted that the way out of the current debacle must be a political solution. While I may find points of disagreement in what Al-Awwa had to offer, I fully agree that there must be a political scenario to see us out of this current state. Resorting to a game of high stakes of “I see you at a million and I raise you 10 million” will not suffice to pull us out of this crisis. A negotiation must and will take place. The festivities and activities taking place on both sides are simply serving the negotiating position of both parties, albeit, one party is clearly displaying comparative advantage at this stage.
Now, it is fair to say that supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi know that bringing him back is a cloud-cuckoo-land idea. They know that they can simply focus their negotiations on three main points: 1) freeing detained leadership, including former president Morsi; 2) guaranteeing no future pursuit of leadership; and 3) guaranteeing participation in the political process.
Now, according to the chemistry of the situation, points 1 & 2 are not going to be easy to come by. Muslim Brotherhood actions coupled with the high octane media campaign have made it inconceivable for those terms to pass without a popular backlash. Recent mass rallies and the 48-hour ultimatum given by the army are geared to force the Brotherhood to the negotiation table while subduing them to make larger concessions.
While several voices are in support of complete annihilation of Morsi’s supporters, one must realise that it is impossible for political life to stabilise in Egypt without integrating the Brotherhood back into the scene. Their continued exclusion will signal further unrest and any forceful dealings in the current situation will signal a global outcry and is simply wrong on so many levels.
We must not forget that we are here today because of a series of missteps. It is our choice to succumb to the euphoria, the festivities and the jubilations. It is our choice to think it is going to be OK or that the Brotherhood will see the crowds and decide to pack and go home. It is our choice to think that the army in this day and age can arrest hundreds of thousands of people. There is only a political solution out of this. The crowds will only serve as a catalyst to these negotiations. We must also condition ourselves to accept less than ideal solutions. Otherwise, this constant grind can carry on forever and will have its repercussions sooner or later.
The army has asked for a popular mandate and can conformably claim that it has received one. Now, the delicate task is to catapult Egypt beyond crowd democracy with some deft short term political solutions by way of negotiation and some long term structural changes that will restore faith into a form of democracy which is beyond contestation: representative democracy.