Egypt’s Cotton Revolution show us the future of Democracy

Posted on 31/01/2011

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On the surface, Egypt, Switzerland and Belgium could not be more different; even after disregarding the obvious contrasts, from religion and military might to governship and economy – but what they potentially both have in common are practices of a new type of people involvement and government.

Switzerland have had a direct democracy since 1848, which in more modern times have at times resulted in monthly referendums on national agendas. In Belgium, a caretaker government has been in place since April last year, seemingly coping with the every day running of a nation, much thanks to the multi-layered ministerial departments that are just getting on with their jobs.

In Egypt, the people have taken to the streets, mostly in peace, to demand the resignation of the regime in general and, of president Mubarak in particular. What have impressed the world watching the once-in-a-lifetime drama unfold is not the fact that the people in an Arab country are revolting against tyranny, but rather that it is the normal citizens without, seemingly, hidden agendas and organisations behind them; who after three decades of deteriorating economy are determined to finally bring about some genuine change for themselves and their country. It is telling that the neither the police or the military have used more force, or that the government haven’t demanded tougher action. The main reason for this might be that they realise, like the rest of the world, that the protesters don’t have a hidden agenda, or are supported by third parties or even other countries.

The Cotton Revolution seems like a very fitting name for the ongoing protests, that are likely to continue to be peaceful and and in the long term, effective. If they are, they just might join the unlikely Democracy 2.0 club with Switzerland and Belgium, in which democracy is made both relevant and valid through a combination of caretaker governments, frequent national referendums and soft revolutions.

What seems to frighten the Obama Administration and both Republicans and Democrats with this particular uprising is that the idea of  peaceful, educated, verbal and demanding protesters could well reflect a not too distant a scenario in their own cities.

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