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The Egyptian Spring That Wasn't

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

Greece: By a slim margin, Greek voters elected, indirectly, to stay within the eurozone by giving the New Democracy Party enough votes to enable it to form a coalition government with the socialist, Pasok party. The anti-bailout movement led by the Syriza party coalition was a close second.

Comment: The head of the New Democrat Party, Antonis Samaras, said Greeks voted to stay in the euro, and called for a "national salvation government". Actually Greeks seem to have voted against the bailout terms and against changing the currency for the second time in less than a lifetime.

A cynic might assess that the great Greek con job continues. The mandate of the electorate is for the government to continue the Greek borrow and spend life-style.  The unreported down side of Syriza is that it never made clear its position on entitlements.

The voters also sent a message that the New Democracy and its coalition partners must honor their prior commitments to pensioners and union workers. Thus, the vote represents no ringing affirmation of the eurozone. Rather it portends more meetings and renegotiations that push until later generations the debts that are due now. This might be called growth.

The confrontation that is emerging in sharper relief is the struggle between the will of the national electorates vs. the will of the appointed European Union bureaucrats in Belgium. The Greek electorate voted for austerity but under more generous terms over a longer time and, in that, they overruled the EU bankers. This result is likely to be repeated in other south European states.

Egypt: The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) announced on 17 June that it will retain control of legislative and budgetary affairs in the absence of parliament. The SCAF will issue a constitutional declaration -- an interim constitution - in a press conference on the 18th. The conference also is expected to address the presidential elections, the drafting of a new constitution, steps towards a new parliament and a roadmap for military rule until a constitution is drafted.

Comment: The Army has refused to surrender political control. It is acting as parens patriae, in the Turkish Ataturk or Pakistani Musharraf model, which ensures violent internal demonstrations in the coming weeks.

Election results. The Muslim Brotherhood declared early Monday that its candidate, Mohammed Mursi, won Egypt's presidential election. Final results will be announced later.

Comment: Unofficial results tallied from reports announced by the judges in the various Egyptian governates during the weekend and relayed via Twitter also indicate the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi won the presidential election by a significant margin. The governate results are incontestable that a majority of Egyptian voters voted for an Islamist government leader.

There are two problems with this outcome. The turnout was so low that it bordered on embarrassing. Less than 25% of registered voters thought voting was more important than anything else they had to do on a weekend. This minority decided the immediate political future of Egypt. This must be interpreted as the will of the people, as Cicero wrote, "cum tacent, clamant.'

Secondly, it is not clear that the armed forces leadership will accept the outcome of the vote. One report claimed the president is powerless. Not true. Legally, he will have all the powers of Mubarak, under the constitution that empowered Mubarak, which remains in effect. Expect more demonstrations.

One clear lesson of the Egyptian elections is that Egypt was not and is not ready for democracy in any modern or western sense. Egyptians now have voted twice - in the parliamentary and the presidential elections - to use the procedures of democracy to vote out democracy and elect an authoritarian, theocratic government.

This is the paradox of democracy - the electorate can vote away its right and power to vote. The Egyptians have now done this partially twice. This is not the Egypt that the US governing elites are familiar with.

Only the authoritarian actions of the Egyptian armed forces have prevented the establishment of a Sharia-based authoritarian Islamist government. A major challenge will be whether the generals honor the Mubarak-era constitution and presidency. In Egypt, democracy has become farce.

For the Brotherhood, the election of Mursi means they are still consequential in influencing Egyptian policy, but only because of American insistence on democracy, oddly enough. The actions of the Egyptian armed forces make clear that they remain in control. There never was and is not now an Egyptian revolution.

End of NightWatch

NightWatch is brought to readers of Townhall Finance by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS), a leader in government problem-solving, Data Confidence® and intelligence. Views and opinions expressed in NightWatch are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of KGS, its management, or affiliates.

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