The new authoritarian regime in Egypt could not hold legislative elections before draining the electoral operation and the parliamentary institution of any traces of democracy. A vicious attack has been launched on democracy since the summer of 2013.
We are dealing with a monopolist who is never questioned or held accountable, and a security operation that undermines the rule of law and violates rights and freedoms. Those who speak in the name of politics are servants of the sultan and followers of security and intelligence apparatuses, and they have the ability to continuously justify oppression, injustice and rights violations.
Civil society organizations are chained by laws and regulations that eliminate freedom of organization, assembly and expression.
And the public sphere is controlled by the roars of authority. They hide behind loud, fake narratives, presenting themselves as "saviors of the nation and national identity" who are "leading a war on terror," and "fighting against conspiracies and conspirators." Their discourse is devoid of reason, justice or tolerance.
"Everyone who realizes that the new regime has extracted the essence of democracy from the electoral process has refrained from voting."
Citizens have deserted the public sphere as a result of repressive laws and actions, distancing themselves from public affairs due to the constant threat of retaliation and collective punishment associated with failure to comply with the ruler's will. Fear has now erased the memory of successful social resistance and people's demand for democratic change during the January 2011 revolution.
The direct result is the monopolization of power and the economy by the ruler, the military and security elite, as well as the bureaucratic elite (who hold wealth and power in official institutions and apparatuses). Meanwhile, open public participation is eliminated, and citizens are stripped of their rights to free choice, whether during election season or beyond.
There have been systematic interventions by security and intelligence apparatuses in the parliamentary elections. Laws governing the elections process have been biased to the lists and individual candidates backed by their apparatuses. This guarantees the formation of a deformed parliament that would advocate for the head of the executive branch. Its legislative duties will be undermined.
We also see surface-level diversity in political party banners and the political masks of the candidates; they are all tied together by the decision they took to undermine democracy in the summer of 2013. They decided to support the violation of rights and freedoms, advocate for the monopolization of power, and to abstain from standing up to oppression. They abandoned demands for the implementation of rule of law and transitional justice. Instead, they followed the leader in exchange of protection and benefits. The fact that these politicians use words such as rights, freedoms, civilians, liberalism and transparency does not mean that they have not fundamentally turned against democracy.
"Some people have realized that reviving democracy in parliament is a mere fantasy; so they refrained from voting."
The direct result of all this is an elections season dominated by the same faces and the same interests that have justified the series of injustices and violations that have unfolded since the summer of 2013. These are the same people who adopted phrases such as "candidate of necessity" and "president of necessity". These are the same people who have tried to compare authoritarian laws and legal amendments passed in the past two years to laws in democratic countries-- they have claimed that the protest law is comparable to protest laws in democratic countries, or that terrorist laws are a national necessity. Meanwhile, political dialogue --on legislative plans, ideas and programs-- that should be discussed in any "normal" parliamentary elections, is absent.
Injustice and rights violations have accumulated, and they cannot be remedied by the occasional presidential pardon. And the executive administration's sweet talk and denials do not mute the impact of injustice.
A direct result is the reluctance of youth, students, and unions to vote in this week's parliamentary elections. Everyone who realizes that the new regime has extracted the essence of democracy from the electoral process has refrained from voting. Some people have realized that reviving democracy in parliament is a mere fantasy; so they refrained from voting. The direct result is that voters have boycotted the elections, and security and intelligence apparatuses will have to go through the hassle of tampering with the publicly announced numbers of participation.
This post first appeared on HuffPost Arabi and was translated into English.