Middle East

Egypt viewpoint: Democracy under military boots

Election posters Cairo
Image caption Election fever is everywhere on the streets of Egypt

As Egyptians head to the polls to vote for a new president, the BBC News website has asked Egyptians of contrasting political persuasions to write about their hopes and fears for the country's future. Gigi Ibrahim is a journalist, blogger, activist and socialist.

Egyptians are bombarded on the streets with advertisements for the presidential candidates.

The range of Islamists, liberals and leftists makes it look like Egypt has finally caught up with the "advanced" world of modern democracy.

But we have been living under a fierce military dictatorship robbing its citizens of basic rights and freedoms since 1952. This has not changed since the 25 January 2011 revolution.

The revolution was a crucial political and historical moment that millions of Egyptians and non-Egyptians have been waiting for. But it is simply that you cannot have democracy under the military dictatorships of the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (Scaf).

I have no doubt that the revolution, which demanded bread, freedom and social equality, will only grow stronger and continue to achieve these goals through the ballot box and, most importantly, through pressure from below.

If I am certain of one thing, it is that over the last year and four months, people have found their voice, they are not afraid and they know their way onto the streets.

People have made it clear that the revolution will not go down without a courageous fight against anything that stands in its way, regardless of the regime's attempts to crack down on activists, or repress freedom of expression.

We have elected a parliament that is failing to do its basic job. Not because of it lacks capability or because of its composition, but because the Scaf has blocked it from gaining any real power.

The new president will be in the same position. The problem will not be because the president is an Islamist, a liberal or a socialist; it will be because he is not allowed by Scaf to make any concessions to the revolution.

As a revolutionary socialist, I believe that a socialist revolution and workers' power will be the only way to completely dismantle the regime and achieve the goals of the revolution.

I think the future is looking bright because I can see beyond the bourgeois democracy and an election that cannot be "free and fair" under the military dictatorship.

It would be superficial to believe that by simply electing a "civilian" president that the military will simply disappear magically from the country's politics.

Almost every major institution and business sector in Egypt has at least one top official who is a corrupt ex-general or military personnel in its management.

At least 18 governors are ex-generals. The military is believed to control 20%-40% of the economy ranging from pasta factories to manufacturers of weapons.

Not to mention the $1.3bn (£800m) that it receives in aid from the USA every year. We, the Egyptian public, have no right to know where this money goes or how it is spent.

In Egypt, the military does not act as a protector of civilian lives and the country's borders. It robs, tortures and kills the Egyptian people in order to protect its interests. The violations, from human rights abuses to unfair trials to virginity tests, are well documented.

What is to be done? How can we, the revolutionaries, succeed? We must continue organising and building from below the alternative power to the dictatorship. We want a people's democracy for Egypt, not an Egyptian republic for retired generals.