This will be the third year in a row that Egyptians will vote on a constitution. Yet another referendum with yet another Yes campaign. Vote Yes for stability , they said in 2011. Vote Yes for Islam, they said in 2012. Vote Yes for your country, they are saying in 2013. Never are there campaigns to “Read”, only to vote Yes… be it through TV shows or the huge posters and ad campaigns all over the streets of the country.
Here are sample answers from different factions on whether they will vote this year:
Islamists: This is an illegitimate referendum by an illegitimate regime. My constitution still stands and when we bring about the downfall of the putschits, this 2013 constitution will be null and void. It is only a matter of time before we rule again and this whole fiasco is over. The 2012 constitution was voted for and approved by the majority of Egyptians and we will not accept anything else. I will not vote for a constitution written with the blood of Egyptians!
Stability junkies: I will vote Yes, of course. We need all this to end. I do not want to see protests anymore. It is time we have our stability back, our work to grow and for this disruption to end. Let the constitution pass, so that we can have elections and end this transition that has brought everything down. It is time to move forward and stop this revolution, which has only resulted in chaos and insecurity. General Al-Sisi knows what he is doing and I am behind him 100%. What is wrong with military trials of civilians? Whoever touches an army officer deserves what is coming to him. Our army is our honour and we will protect our honour and our country. Don’t you see what the army has done for us? They helped topple Mubarak and Morsi, what more do you want? Such an unpatriotic ungrateful person you are!
Mubarak’s Foloul: I will not vote! This is a Salafi/Leftist constitution that makes no sense. I will not approve the taxes system they want and I am definitely against the shared authority between the president and the prime minister. This simply means that some political faction will get a big share on the decision making in this country, because said prime minister will be from the parliament’s majority party. This is insane!
Revolutionary: I would never vote Yes for a constitution that allows for military trials of civilians or for an immune Minister of Defence. This constitution gives the president more power over the parliament than Mubarak had, can you believe this? It also gives parliament the authority to vote for renewing the state of emergency, and not through a public referendum. They actually did not set rules for the provisional custody of people; so basically, they can detain political opponents indefinitely! We are talking Mubarak days here! This is completely unacceptable, did our friends die for this? Saying Yes is a betrayal of everything 25 January stands for!
Bored citizen : Vote? Again? Absolutely not! What difference does it make? They will pass their constitution just as all the rulers have before. I stood in that long queue waiting my turn and wasting my time and effort on politics and politicians. What good came of it? I have not seen a single good day for two years. Let them do what they want; they can all go to hell as far as I am concerned!
As has always been the case, revolutionaries and rights activists are the ones with a cause: freedom, justice and democracy. Most of them have actually read the constitution and formed an opinion, and as is the nature of revolutionaries, they would not budge or settle for anything less than idealistic goals. Rulers have changed, but how they deal with this camp remains unchanged. Silence them, jail them and in some cases, kill them. All the while, the campaigns against them are ongoing, and people are starting to believe the monologue delivered by TV show hosts. The fact that most of them reject the violent dispersal of the Rabaa sit-in, Protest Law and overall management of the transitional period and the ever-so-long roadmap prompted many “bored” Egyptians to view them as troublemakers who have failed to bring about justice to the people.
Given their dwindling popularity, very few people seem to be listening to them at all, and every other side is voting for a person/regime, and not on the constitution. It has become, since the March 2011 referendum, a question of allegiances and not of rights and rules.
And the problem is that with such a constitution, it is only fair to evaluate it based on allegiances, given that it has no singular political line. It is neither Islamist, liberal, leftist nor would it sit well with social democrats. It has no identity therefore it has no true bloc backing. It is also one of these documents that every faction, including the “bored citizen”, believe will not last. Everyone seems to see this constitution as “interim” as the government that passed it.
The YES to Egypt campaign might do the trick with many Egyptians, given the hardships they see every day, and they want this phase to end and for the Islamists to disappear. However, a larger segment would probably say, “Forget it, I am not leaving my couch”… and this will not be a political statement, either!