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Election Confusion in Greece and Egypt

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Egypt: A low-level administrative court in Benha, Egypt, ruled on 9 May that Egypt must suspend the 23 May presidential elections because he found that the Supreme Elections Commission overstepped its mandate and that only the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is authorized to call elections.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces responded by affirming the elections would proceed as scheduled. Egyptian press reported public anger and derision at the court.

Comment: The ruling is based on a technicality and probably will be reversed on appeal. What are not clear is who brought the lawsuit and whether the court had jurisdiction in the first place.

The effect of the ruling as reported and the armed forces quick action to overrule the court is to undermine confidence in the election process. It looks lawless in the sense that the generals can order anything they want. The generals this week denounced complaints that they are rigging the elections.

The mounting confusion is the result of a power struggle that has emerged from the generals' decisions about establishing democracy. Egypt held parliamentary elections which non-secular interests won, but does not have a parliamentary constitution. The procedure for crafting one was disqualified, but the Muslim Brotherhood and its parliamentary allies are demanding that the generals acknowledge their authority to form a government.

The generals support a presidential system and the political confusion has tended to serve their interest in preserving that system. Their disdain for parliament is punctuated by a minor reshuffle of the military-backed cabinet that is to be announced on 10 May, but does not have parliamentary review.

Greece: Leftist leader Alexis Tsipras gave up his attempt to form a new government on Wednesday, pushing Greece closer to its second election. The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party refused to join a coalition led by the Coalition of the Radical Left, which rejects the country's International Monetary Fund-EU bailout, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said on 9 May.

The board of the European Financial Stability Facility agreed on Wednesday to make a payment of 5.2 billion euros in emergency aid to Greece, overcoming opposition from some eurozone member states.

Comment: The failure of the leftists means that Greece must hold another election in 30 days.

End of NightWatch

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