A superb article discusses the victory of the new Constitution of Egypt under President Morsi. The article notes that “One could be forgiven for thinking that the results of the first phase of the referendum (conducted in 10 of Egypt’s most populous governorates, with the remaining 17 to vote on December 22) were a blow to ElBaradei’s narrative. The new constitution passed comfortably, with an estimated 57 percent voting yes. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has “hailed” the poll, describing the result as a rebuke to ‘politicians and collaborators who ignored the will of the people.'”
He goes on to write “On the face of it, the Brotherhood’s narrative seems sound. In fact, a greater share of voters in each governorate voted for President Mohamed Morsi’s constitution than had voted for the man himself last June (see figure). In fact, only in Cairo and Alexandria did Morsi’s constitution do more poorly than Morsi had, and even then only barely. This result has been interpreted by some as a strengthening of Morsi’s mandate”. He thankfully gives some relief when he says “Turnout was slightly over 30 percent, much lower than the 52 percent turnout in the June presidential runoff, or the 43 percent turnout in the presidential election’s first round, or even the 40 percent turnout in the March 2011 constitutional referendum (a waste of time in which Egyptians voted to amend a constitution that the military then went ahead and abolished)”.
Thus, any sense of the new constitution as being legitimate simply washes away. This is especially true of such an important document as a constitution, which is meant to be respected and trusted by the vast majority, though obviously not by all – that would be impossible – Egyptians.
He adds that “In fact, a better way of gauging whether the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi picked up steam or lost it during this referendum would be to compare how many raw votes Morsi got in June versus how many raw votes his constitution got”, he adds later in the piece that “in every governorate except South Sinai, North Sinai, and Aswan (where roughly the same number of people came out for both Morsi and his charter), fewer people cast ballots for Morsi’s constitution than they had for him. In other words, some who voted for the president six months ago decided not to do so on Saturday. Whether those former supporters stayed home or defected to the other side is hard to know, but this result cannot be spun as a victory for the president”.
He poses the question as to how the opposition can benefit from this, “the opposition should reach out to supporters of former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq. If we assume that all of the “yes” votes were cast by people who had voted for the president in June, and all of the “no” votes cast by people who had voted against him, the results of the referendum suggest that more Shafiq voters than Morsi voters stayed home this time. Of course, this assumption is likely not 100 percent true in the real world –some Shafiq voters certainly voted “yes,” while some Morsi voters said “no,” but if you believe it’s a fair assumption in general, the results are striking”.
He ends noting “In every governorate save Alexandria, the anti-Morsi side lost more votes between June and today than the pro-Morsi side did. What this suggests is that there is a large bank of voters, alienated from the political process, and proven in its opposition to the president, just waiting to be tapped”.
However those who voted for Shafiq support the military, and the military supports Morsi, for now.