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HomeGeopolitical CompassNile Valley & N.AfricaHow Much Will the Pandemic Change Egyptian Governance and for How Long?

How Much Will the Pandemic Change Egyptian Governance and for How Long?

Authors: Amr Hamzawy and Nathan J. Brown

Affiliation: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Organization/Publisher: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Date/Place: July 23, 2020/Washington DC, USA

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 4471

Link: https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/07/23/how-much-will-pandemic-change-egyptian-governance-and-for-how-long-pub-82353

Keywords: Egypt, Democracy, Governance, Political Reform

Brief:

Carnegie senior fellows Amr Hamzawy and Nathan J. Brown question how the pandemic has influenced Egyptian governance, to what extent, and for how long it may last. The authors claim that the “lines of authority and responsibility” have been reshaped by the challenges imposed by the pandemic. Although they believe that such changes are not radical and the regime has not become more democratic or liberal, this may result in enduring changes in the Egyptian governance system as a more technocratic model rather than a democratic system. The article underlines the shifts in the policymaking, information sharing, and politics and for how long it may continue in the future. The initial reactions of the regime represented the military as the main actors. Later, there has been a shift in response from being dominated by military and security institutions to the cabinet, including mainly the prime minister, with a notable shift in role and power delegation. Remarkably, the military and security institutions have been supporting the technocratic civilian leaders of the crisis. This shift has been extended to “mid-level bureaucracy, local government, religious institutions, and professional associations.” This shift towards decentralization represents an empowerment of civilian actors, who have passed from “crisis management” to “ongoing management.” The door was also opened for non-state actors such as syndicates of doctors and nurses. To be clear, this doesn’t indicate a rebirth of any kind of political activism representing any different social or political vision. Rather, it is a significant change of the governance system; in other words, it is a restricted change. This shift was mainly justified by the regime as it realized that managing the public space is more essential than national security management, and its realization of the threat faced by its personnel and leaders due to the magnitude of the costs of slow or late reaction to the pandemic. The authors conclude by evaluating whether these changes will be a tactical adjustment or strategic reorientation. They advocate that whether they are short or long-term changes, they are technocratic—not democratic. Moreover, even if they are considered long term effects, most probably they will be reversible with few exceptions of survival. They predict a restricted return to a “pre-2011” Egypt, with more autonomy to state institutions, and more delegation of power and authority over policy coordination to the cabinet instead of the presidency, with long-term reverberation of trust. 


By: Yomna Süleyman, CIGA Research Assistant

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