Traditional democratic transition literature tends to propose a transition formula that is based on procedural aspects, ignoring the substantive socio-economic dimension of democratization.
The matter becomes even more complex when democratic transition is spurred by a revolution, as is the case in Egypt
By their very nature, revolutions revitalize social groups and allow them to breathe new air which puts the subaltern classes in the position of history-makers after being its objects for many long decades. This practically defies the theories of political engineering from above, and all what is associated to it, including all "transition" roadmaps, no matter how perfectly drawn or logical they are.
For example, Dr. Mohammad Al-Baradei might be entirely convinced that the "original sin" was disregarding his advice to put the "constitution first" as the key to a roadmap that ensures a safe and smooth democratic transition. However, I believe that those who follow the Egyptian revolution closely will agree that regardless of the procedural order the transition could have followed, it would have been impossible to avoid the fierce struggle among the different social classes and political forces that the revolution has unleashed after the old regime’s downfall. This means that it is useless to restrict one’s thoughts to the issue of right and wrong procedures without examining the nature of the on-going fundamental struggle, and how to ensure that the democratic forces will ultimately triumph.
The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.