Is Egypt’s revolution, if it ever was one, now officially over?
The results of Saturday’s referendum on amendments to the constitution–seen as a first step towards competitive elections later this year–suggest less than great excitement.
According to Ahram, the turnout was around 41%. Yes, forty one.
Of those who bothered to show up, 77.2% said yes to the amendments.
I wondered how this compared to other referenda on either a new constitution, or amendments to the pre-existing authoritarian one, in past transitions to democracy.
The following is probably missing some key cases. I put it together by perusing my volumes of the Nohlen, et al., data handbooks on Latin America and Africa, as well as some sources on Eastern Europe.*
Country, Year, Turnout,Yes
Chile, 1989, 93.9, 91.3
Ecuador, 1978, 60.2, 58.1
Malawi, 1993, 97.7, 64.7
Mali, 1992, 98.2, 99.0
Uruguay, 1980, 78.6, 42.1
What this means going forward, I do not know. Various reports said the pro-democracy forces were divided over whether the reforms went far enough to be worthy of a yes vote. However, I did not hear anything about an organized boycott. Yet the yes vote was fairly strong out of those who voted, while the turnout shockingly weak for a country supposedly in the process of a mass-instigated transition to democracy.
* I did not find any in Eastern Europe that took place prior to democratic elections. However, Poland’s referendum on its constitution in 1993 had a turnout on par with Egypt’s: 42.9. The yes vote was 53.5. Poland was already democratic by this point, having been governed under the interim Little Constitution.