¿Democracia en el Nilo?

La sorpresiva decisión del presidente egipcio Hosni Mubarak de proponer una enmienda constitucional que permitiría celebrar elecciones presidenciales directas y competitivas puede ser un paso gigantesco para la democracia en Egipto y el mundo árabe. A los occidentales, acostumbrados a la democracia plural, les puede resultar difícil entender la enormidad del cambio potencial que esto puede significar en un país acostumbrado al gobierno militar durante más de 50 años.

Bajo el sistema actual, los ciudadanos egipcios sólo pueden presentarse el día de un referéndum presidencial cada seis años y pronunciarse a favor o en contra del único nombre que aparece en la papeleta. Esto explica por qué alguien como Mubarak siempre obtuvo más del 90% de los votos, aunque haya sido con una participación indiferente. A los líderes de Siria e Iraq les ha ido incluso mejor con este sistema, sin duda porque exigían que los nombres y direcciones de los votantes aparecieran al calce de cada voto.

Muchos han argumentado desde hace tiempo que la democratización del Medio Oriente no avanzará mucho hasta que Egipto se comprometa plenamente con el proceso. Egipto no podía verdaderamente emprender el camino de la democratización sin reformar primero su constitución --para reducir los poderes faraónicos de su presidente y poner límites a su periodo de gobierno. Después de todo, Mubarak ya lleva 24 años como presidente. Por ello, el anuncio de que quiere elecciones presidenciales competitivas es un importante primer paso.

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