Egypt’s opposition needs to start playing politics

How will Egypt's opposition face the coming challenges?

A voter casts her ballot during the constitutional referendum

 

Another thoughtful piece from The Economist on Egypt’s constitutional woes.

The magazine notes the low turnout in the first round of last week’s referendum, and cautions the Muslim Brotherhood against reacting to their apparently waning support by seeking an ever tighter grip on power.

But there are also stern words for the National Salvation Front, the country’s main opposition group:

“The opposition, for its part, should start relying more on negotiation and less on demonstration. Street protests were a force for good before democracy prevailed—they toppled Mr Mubarak, after all—but if they become a routine way to change the law and remove governments, then Egypt will never learn how to reconcile interests and settle disputes through everyday politics.”

“The non-Islamist opposition, which is coming together for the first time in a broad front, should concentrate on preparing for the imminent general election. To compete with Islamists at a local level, they must start tackling the urgent bread-and-butter concerns of poor people.”

It has been a criticism routinely leveled at Egypt’s liberal, secular and leftist opposition since the toppling of Mubarak – that they are out of touch with the concerns of ‘ordinary voters’.

With fresh parliamentary elections rapidly approaching, the Economist argues that now is the time to start undermining that unhelpful perception.