An agenda for change in Egypt
There’s an excellent article in Foreign Policy this week by Mohammad Fadel, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, on Labour and the future of the Egyptian revolution which draws attention to the economic changes that are necessary, on top of the political change that seems to be underway. The demands of the new, independent unions in Egypt are worth reading in full, because they are realistic but radical, and would make for major change in the region – if not quite the route map to a Scandinavian-inspired social market economy that Fadel recommends.
There is a reason why Egypt was a dictatorship in all but name, and it was to ensure that the economic growth which Egypt has sustained over the last few decades (not outstanding, but not nugatory either) could be kept in the hands of the kleptocrats who ran the regime. And if the revolution does not produce a more equal society then it will certainly have failed and could even collapse, as Fadel warns. For the same reason, it is important that the European Union and the rest of the G20 ensures that Egypt (and other parts of the Middle East/North Africa region currently in transition to democracy) has the resources to become more equal. As Philip Stephens pointed out in his Financial Times article Five pointers for the Middle East,
The US and Europe should take a lead in mobilising resources so that democracy takes root in countries that eject authoritarian rulers. … There are big incentives available in addition to money. Trade and investment concessions should be given to governments ready to open up their societies. Immigration rules should be loosened for states in transition.