Earlier today, Egypt’s Interim President Adly Mansour received a final draft of the country’s new constitution from the committee tasked with making revisions to the one approved just a year ago. Mansour is now expected to ratify the constitution and set a date for a national referendum to be held in the coming weeks. Already, leading politicians are trying to drum up support for the new constitution and boost voter turnout, which was only 33 percent during the last constitutional referendum in 2012. The Muslim Brotherhood – its leaders arrested and its political party banned – has rejected the new constitution and boycotted the process. Secular opposition leaders have also denounced the constitution, arguing that it fails to empower citizens and leaves authoritarian power structures intact. Hopelessly trying to smooth over the bitter tensions dividing Egyptian society, Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has urged voters to focus on the “spirit of the constitution.” As I write in a recent Foreign Policy article:
Political infighting among secularists, Islamists, and remnants of the old regime has defined Egypt’s transition since it began nearly three years ago, and these tensions have played out vividly on the battlefield of constitution-writing. Instead of delivering a much-needed national consensus, the tortured constitutional process has only deepened political rifts.