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Egypt’s Constitution in Question

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image of Middle East Law and Governance

In well-functioning democracies, constitutions are revered as the unwavering backbones of law and order and permanent reservoirs of fundamental rights. But if longevity is the defining test of a successful constitution, then Egypt’s new charter – ratified by popular referendum in December 2012 – is already in danger of failing. This essay, which draws on conversations with Egyptian judges and lawyers in 2013, will argue that the illegitimacy and ambiguity of Egypt’s constitution has undermined rule of law by insufficiently clarifying the balance of powers between rival institutions that are now engaged in fierce competition over the uncertain contours. The effect of the resulting power struggle has been a sharp deterioration of public confidence in judicial institutions which are increasingly perceived as partisan actors prioritizing their own interests over the public good.

Affiliations: 1: Associate, Right to Nonviolence


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