If we want to discuss the most important challenge for the Egyptian economic and social Development, I can say that there is many challenges, but from my point of view I believe that the political challenge is the one that all efforts, on all levels, must direct to. Egypt is always, from the very beginning, is ruled by one political force or, to be more accurate, by one person, the head of the state and a small group who are forming the ruling elite in Egypt. Since the free soldiers movement overthrew the monarchy system in Egypt July 23, 1952, Egypt hasn’t witnessed a real plural political system. But one party system took the full responsibility for managing the country internally and externally. Even when President Al-Sadat announced the transformation towards multi-party system, it seemed that ruling system didn’t want to establish a full plural and democratic system.
Why I consider the lack of democracy is the most important obstacle in face of economic and social development? Here I can list many reasons strengthening that pretext.
The 1st: democracy based on stability in all aspects inside the society and the state, economically, socially, politically, and etc. no single person or individual group can change the mainstream until passing by very sophisticated process of decision making. So here in Egypt with every new officeholder take the office, new policies being applied removing all effort done before in a specific area or field. As a result For example no clear economic policy is being executed, so Egypt witnesses a mixture from state-controlled economy and free market-oriented one which weaken the ability of the Egyptian economy to grow because of these contradictory policies.
The 2nd: the lack of democracy is very important factor for the wide spread of corruption. As there are no rooted principles of accountability and responsibility being applied and the role of law isn’t well executed. In such sphere the economy won’t be able to attract high level of foreign direct investment which, according to many economists, is one of the most incentives for achieving high rate of growth.
The 3rd: missing democracy creates high profile of social and political instability. Within that shaky environment we can’t expect achieving the goal of development. So the ruling elite will concentrate more on controlling those manifestations of instability by directing most of the state’s resources, especially the security ones, to face that status. Therefore foreign investors will think a lot before taking their decision to invest their money in the country as the capital needs stable environment to work.
The 4th: without a stable democracy we can’t grantee active participations from the citizens in making the public decisions on all levels, and especially those decisions that concerned with the priorities of economic and social development. The lack of that active participation is a main reason behind the failure of the state’s developmental approach here in Egypt. As the participatory approach in development become the best and the most convenient way to prioritize social and economic goals through people to be for people.
To overcome the democratic challenge, some important steps must be taken to pave the way for establishing strong democracy that will facilitate the process of economic and social development and create the healthy climate for attraction more FDI. First we have to formulate new constitution that would frame the appropriate relationship between the society and the state in Egypt. That constitution will create the base for the principles of accountability, responsibility, and rule of law. Second, we have to recreate the Egyptian public sphere socially and culturally through a strategic plan that work on reforming the educational system and encouraging citizens’ active participation in decision making process. Reforming education is very important in order to have well-skilled graduates able to meet the market and development requirements.