The elections in Egypt -whatever else they achieved – did a wonderful job in underlining the … importance of implementing democracy in the Middle East region.
The upheavals resulting from the Arab Spring have been the catalyst for seismic shifts and it would be unrealistic to expect that such enormous change could be introduced – successfully – at a stroke.
The region has endured a set of long-‘serving’ dictators that will assume their separate and collective place in history: Saddam Hussein; Gadaffi in Libya; Ben Ali, Ali Al Saleh in Yemen and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.
Tyrants each and every one of them? Undoubtedly.
Greedy, self-serving, egomaniacal despots? Certainly.
But other features they share is that when they began their careers decades ago, each of them believed they could improve the lot of their fellow countrymen and bring something better to their nation.
These were not kings or emirs trained in diplomacy and affairs of state from an early age, therefore we should not be too surprised that – ordinary men – they fell foul of the temptations of avarice, vanity and greed and the only individual stamp they would put on history would, ultimately, be one of one of dishonour. All future power must be shared – for a limited term – among the freely and fairly elected. The era of king-making must now be at an end.
As somebody living in the West I am numbed with dread at the possibility of a 30 year tenure of 10 Downing Street by Tony Blair, or a White House occupied for three decades by George W. Bush. The new system in Egypt must now ensure that no man and no military organisation emerges as a potential future political menace.
The elections in Egypt were far from perfect but they were a start. Democracy, like everything else worthwhile, cannot be achieved or perfected in a short time. It will take years of trial and error, back-stepping and reform before a workable model begins to emerge and Egyptians finally become the drivers of their own destiny. The way in which they are able to move forward to achieve these goals will be under intense scrutiny. If they make it work they inspire the whole region to move forward along democratic lines. Failure cannot and must not be an option.