Democracy building in Egypt has been uneven since protests led to Mubarak's ouster Feb. 11, but it is moving forward. Those in the best position to keep it that way are the Egyptian people.
Of all the democratic uprisings in the Arab world, none is more consequential than the one in Egypt. The most populous of the Arab countries and a historic giant in culture and regional politics, an Egypt that gets it right can serve as a model and stabilizer for this troubled neighborhood.
On the democratic plus side, voters have overwhelmingly approved amendments to the existing Constitution that open up the political process. A new president will be limited to two terms of four years each and restrictions on the types of candidates have been lifted. Parliamentary elections are due in September, followed by a presidential election. It seems that the interim military council that runs Egypt wants to get out of the governing business as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, the hasty voting schedule favors established political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party. Those who began the revolution are meantime struggling to organize and unite into political parties. They objected to the drafting of the amendments, which was a secretive process.
The Brotherhood has said it will not put up a candidate for president. But those who fear a takeover by fundamentalist Islamists worry of Brotherhood parliamentary gains that will then influence the drafting of a new constitution.
No one knows whether the Brotherhood will live up to its pledge of nonviolence and support for a democratic state. It could be that the Brothers are not the ones to be feared, but rather a minority group of fundamentalist Muslim Salafists who are growing bolder by the day.