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Africa North
How Morsi came undone
2013-07-08
Reasonable hypothesis: Morsi wasn't very well known or liked personally either within the Brøderbünd or outside it, so when Egypt began to flounder his many flaws became evident to all. He had to keep giving the Brøderbünd what it wanted so that it wouldn't turn on him, and that meant progressively alienating the Salafists at one end and the liberals, army and Copts at the other. When the latter set rose up he had no natural constituency to support him as the Salafists sat on their hands. The Brøderbünd is protesting now not for him but for their own loss of power.
When historians review Mohamed Morsi's brief presidency, the now-deposed Egyptian leader's most iconic moment will likely have come one day before he was formally inaugurated.

Addressing a raucous Tahrir Square crowd, Morsi unbuttoned his blazer to reveal that he was not wearing a bulletproof vest and declared, "I have nothing to fear, I only fear God, I'm here among you."

For many Egyptians, the gesture reflected the new era of more representative, post-Hosni Mubarak politics, in which the president's popular legitimacy served as his first line of physical protection.

But it will now go down as Morsi's "Mission Accomplished" moment, because his insular, often autocratic governing style earned him so many enemies that even his basic electoral legitimacy couldn't save him.

So how did Morsi go from the face of Egypt's democratic future to the target of a mass uprising within barely 12 months?

Part of the reason has to do with the way in which Morsi won the presidency.

Until April 2012, when Morsi became the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate following the disqualification of the organization's initial nominee, Morsi was a political unknown: he was member of Egypt's barely-followed parliament under Hosni Mubarak, and kept a low profile as chairman of the Brotherhood's political party following the 2011 revolution. His campaign trail appearances didn't boost his image either. His speeches often ran for two hours, and he exuded gruffness in television interviews.

The Muslim Brotherhood's unparalleled mobilizing capabilities, however, enabled Morsi to overcome these otherwise fatal shortcomings.

This made Morsi's unpopularity irrelevant, since the Brotherhood's vast, nationwide network of members could get out the vote with unmatched efficiency. Morsi thus won the presidency without having to be liked - thereby making it easy for people to start hating him as soon as his many flaws became apparent.

Morsi's total reliance on the Brotherhood for his political success had another damaging effect: it made pleasing his Brotherhood colleagues a top priority, even though he campaigned promising to govern inclusively. Morsi thus continually expanded the number of Brotherhood ministers and governors with each round of appointments, further alienating non-Islamists.

His most damaging move in this regard, however, came on Nov. 22, when he issued a constitutional declaration asserting total executive authority, and then used this as a pretext for ramming an Islamist constitution through to ratification.

As the Brotherhood successfully mobilized to pass the constitution by referendum, a once disparate coalition of non-Islamist forces took to the streets by the hundreds of thousands, and a wave of smaller, increasingly violent demonstrations simmered for months.

Meanwhile, as critics accused Morsi of "Brotherhoodizing" the government, state institutions became unresponsive to his administration.

By the time of Wednesday's coup, Egypt was on the verge of state failure - and it still is.

In other words, the source of Morsi's initial political strength - the Brotherhood's unique organizational prowess - was also the source of his downfall, because it obviated his need for working with others.

And by the end, they refused to work with him, too.
Posted by:Steve White

#2  Alexander Kerensky to the courtesy phone.
Posted by: Procopius2k   2013-07-08 09:02  

#1  This story reminds me of Jimmy Carter, except he was swept in by anti-government disgust, rather than a formal "party".

I suppose this is an argument for electing president by popularity. Unless the popular guy turns out to be a narcissist.
Posted by: Bobby   2013-07-08 06:12  

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