Can Egypt Become a True Democracy?

Egypt faces several obstacles to building a democratic political system, but it also enjoys some important advantages. Indeed, Egypt appears to have democracy's most important asset: democrats.

WASHINGTON, DC – Hosni Mubarak’s resignation as President of Egypt marks the beginning of an important stage in that country’s transition to a new political system. But will the political transition ultimately lead to democracy?

We cannot know with certainty, but, based on the history of democratic government, and the experiences of other countries – the subject of my book, Democracy’s Good Name: The Rise and Risks of the World’s Most Popular Form of Government – we can identify the obstacles that Egypt faces, as well as the advantages it enjoys, in building political democracy.

Understanding any country’s democratic prospects must begin with a definition of democracy, which is a hybrid form of government, a fusion of two different political traditions. The first is popular sovereignty, the rule of the people, which is exercised through elections. The second, older and equally important, is liberty – that is, freedom.

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