Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Political Science

Major Professor

Abdelwahab Hechiche, Ph.D.

Keywords

Bureaucracy, Democratization, Gamal, Reform, Dictatorship

Abstract

The Egyptian authoritarian regime is a mammoth machine created and headed by President Hosni Mubarak as an instrument for the exercise of his own power. His ability to influence every facet of the character of Egypt lies in his previous career experience, the involvement in politics of his immediate family, his commitment to unpopular but lucrative foreign policies, and the bureaucratic obstacle course he created for opposition entities to navigate. Through persistent efforts to prepare himself for national leadership prior to gaining power, then to consolidate his power in the institutions of Egypt, Mubarak has built a state organization with a solid legal basis for suppression of opposition. Using an extensive system of patronage, Mubarak maintains elite support for his continued control of the state.

Sustained adherence to the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty brings Egypt significant foreign aid that compensates for some of its economic shortfalls, and affords Mubarak the opportunity to serve as a regional partner in advancing the Middle East Peace Process, reinforcing Mubarak's fitness to rule on the international stage. The maintenance of a pervasive and fiercely loyal security apparatus also gives Mubarak the ability to disrupt any internal opposition activity before it can fully mobilize a call for change. The manner in which Mubarak crafted a democratic facade to cover his authoritarian regime is an artful nod to the Third Wave of democratization; he recognized that to remain in power in the 21st century, Egypt must be perceived as democratic in nature by the international community.

That election irregularities, policy barriers to political participation, and single-party control of the legislature prevent the creation of a truly representative government is an important but difficult to prove fact that Mubarak's facade democratic motions are designed to disguise. It is prudent to consider how Mubarak's exit from Egyptian politics will affect the authoritarian system he has built and managed since 1981. The likely accession of his son, Gamal, will keep most power guarantors in place, but the globalizing forces of this century will require a fresh approach to managing domestic, international, and global relations.

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