Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 22 January 2014

Egypt referendum: no enthusiasm for new constitution

David Johnson

To no one's surprise, 98% of Egyptian voters said yes to the new constitution in the recent referendum.

Almost three years since the beginning of the massive movement of the Egyptian people that led to the overthrow of long-standing dictator, Hosni Mubarak, many yearn for some stability.

But the low 38.5% turnout shows large numbers of Egyptians have no enthusiasm for, and many actively oppose, the new constitution.

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) boycotted the vote. In less industrialised areas, where the MB's support is strongest, turnout was closer to 20%.

But among those aged under 30 - the most active forces of the 2011 revolution - turnout was unofficially reported as 19%.

Senior armed forces officers rode on the back of the massive protests against MB President Morsi on 30 June 2013 to install a military-backed government led by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, posing as defenders of the Egyptian people from a MB takeover.

Filling a vacuum

The lack of independent working class organisation in the demonstrations, either through trade unions or a mass working class party, allowed the officers to fill the vacuum caused by the MB government collapse.

After the massive pressure of millions of workers on the street, the officers announced measures such as increasing the minimum wage for public sector workers (but not private sector).

Now these officers are trying to consolidate their position. The new constitution, written by an unelected committee without representation from the independent trade unions, allows the armed forces to continue hiding its huge business interests.

It will decide who the defence minister is - not an elected parliament. Military trials for civilians, so hated under Mubarak, continue.

Although strikes and sit-ins are defined as rights, the constitution allows the government to regulate how these 'rights' will be used.

Tough new laws regulate the right to protest, requiring protest organisers to get police permission, giving 24-hours notice, details of start and finish times, route and names of organisers.

Demonstrators who have defied this new law have been beaten up and sexually harassed while in detention. Journalists thought to be sympathetic to the MB have also been arrested.

While the roundup of MB leaders as "terrorists" has been widely supported, the police and security forces have also used their regained powers to arrest young and left-wing political activists.

There have been almost daily protests in universities, many by students supporting the MB but also by liberal and socialist students.

Security forces have stormed on to university campuses, as well as attacking protests and activists outside. Bit by bit, Mubarak's repressive regime is being reconstructed.

In April 2013, weeks before the huge demonstrations forced Morsi out, there were 448 workers' protests, including strikes, blockades and occupations.

In December there were only eleven, although this included an important strike by 5,000 workers at the Egyptian Iron and Steel Company.


The economic situation remains dire, meaning more attacks to come on workers' pay and conditions, and subsidised cooking gas and foods.

The ruling class is desperate to have a strong government that can successfully implement these attacks.

But different sections of the ruling class have their own interests. Senior officers control industries owned by the armed forces.

Under Morsi, they were challenged by the wealthy businessmen of the MB. Another section of big business is not aligned to the military or MB, but they have thrown their weight behind Sisi to become the new president.

A presidential election is likely soon, with Sisi widely expected to declare his candidacy on 25 January, the anniversary of the start of the uprising against Mubarak.

Sisi hopes to get elected with a similarly convincing majority to the referendum, boosting his authority to carry out the cuts and repressive measures Egyptian capitalism needs to survive.

But workers and the youth have seen off Mubarak and Morsi and will not easily give up their rights to organise and fight for their interests.

Drawing on the lessons of the past three years, increasing numbers of revolutionary workers and youth will conclude that the working class must raise its own independent interests and not be sucked into support for one or other wing of the capitalist class.

Workers need to build their own organisations, including a mass party with a programme of democratic socialist change that could unite all their struggles into an unstoppable movement for a government of workers and the poor.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 22 January 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Real living wage now

Capitalism is a system in crisis

Pay me - I'm a banker!

What exactly is the point of Labour?

Stop the NHS sell-off

Bedroom tax loophole: Can legal tactics be effective?

Fracking - profiting from environmental destruction

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Egypt referendum: no enthusiasm for new constitution

"Ireland is a success story" rhetoric is based on spin


Stop the student debt spiral - day of action 6 February

Youth Fight for Jobs campaign in Croydon

An open letter to Tristram Hunt

Socialist Party workplace news

Transport workers have power to defeat cuts

Teachers need a date for national action

Teachers strike against threatened redundancies

NUT strikes against management "observations"

More action needed to defend Probation Service

Publicity alone can't save sacked union branch official

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Lincoln marches against racism and fascism

Protest against Atos 'assessments' on 19 February

Salford workers and environmentalists challenge council

Stop cuts in Kent

Carlisle petition

Readers' comments and reviews

Benefits Street: A caricature of poverty

Leeds' forgotten dispute: The 1913-14 Corporation Strike

Robert Burns, insurrectionary poet


Home   |   The Socialist 22 January 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleAttacks ratchet-up Syrian conflict and fuel tensions between powers

triangleSyria: Is an end to the war in sight?

triangleSuez 1956: the decline of British imperialism and rise of the colonial revolution

triangleShimon Peres - a wolf in sheep's clothing


triangleWorkers' anger increases after Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleCampaign against political repression in Hong Kong

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

Working class:

triangleRussia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangleTories torn - bin them now

triangleNasty party out the Tories


triangleBrutal repression of Rohingya people sparks massive humanitarian crisis


triangleConference on state spies and sabotage: who's watching who?




Hong Kong

Campaign against political repression in Hong Kong



Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't



Solidarity with Catalonia - the people have the right to decide



Eyewitness: Irish socialist MP participates in events



Exemplary resistance by the people of Catalonia



Germany: Election results in political earthquake



Strike against Madrid's 'state of emergency'!



German elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance



French Labour reform protests



Catalonia: Student strike called



Brutal repression of Rohingya people sparks massive humanitarian crisis



Solidarity with Catalonia in the Spanish state



Berlin hospital strike



Korean peninsula: is nuclear war likely?



Interview with leader of students' union in the Spanish state: "When we fight, we win!"

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle18 Oct Warrington & St Helens Socialist Party: 1917-2017; the October Russian Revolution

triangle18 Oct Hackney Socialist Party: 100 years ago - the Bolshevik-led revolution

triangle18 Oct Tower Hamlets Socialist Party: Capitalism in Crisis - is Corbyn the answer?

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice