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More on Democracy in Egypt

Ilya Somin wrote a response to my post on democracy in Egypt.   As Ilya notes, we largely agree on the issues, including my additional points that democracy requires both compromise and periodic elections rather than one election, and that constitutions ought to be enacted by supermajority rules. In turn, I agree with Ilya that there may be tragic choices as to whether to violently displace a majority elected government that is repressive.

But I did want to clarify one point about terminology.  I agree with Ilya that some people use democracy to mean government chosen by majority vote and some people use it to mean something like liberal democracy.  My main point (which I should have been clearer about) was to say that even the narrower form of democracy — with government chosen by majority vote — requires (1) periodic elections, not just one election, and (2) compromise, in order to work effectively.  Thus, one can criticize the Morsi regime for not merely being illiberal, but also for not really following the narrower form of democracy.

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on July 10, 2013 at 07:02:49 am

For what it's worth, though, I think Daniel Larison's thoughts on the coup actually strengthening political Islam are worth reading.

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Brandon
on July 10, 2013 at 17:14:28 pm

We Americans are terribly flippant about these process issues, which I find very odd since they go to the heart of the legal issues leading up to our civil war. Holdiong elections, even more than once does not lead to a functioning democracy, which was why Lincoln was adament about the need for a common political faith in natural law. Laws are insufficient absent the agreement of the people that they are sufficently legitimate to require following. Legitimacy requires some basic level of common accord on the primary questions of the nature of politics and man. Theocracy and western secular attitudes are incompatible. Sorry to say that at this point there is not hope for Egypt to have a functioning democracy so that should not be considered at least a short-term option.

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Ron Johnson

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.