Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is one step closer toward maintaining long-term, authoritarian power over his country.
On Tuesday, Egypt's parliament voted overwhelmingly — the final tally from the largely pro-Sisi parliament was 531 to 22 with one abstention — to approve "sweeping changes" to the national constitution. The amendments would help extend Sisi's rule until 2030 and give him unprecedented control over the judicial system. The changes to the constitution include: extending presidential terms from four to six years (Sisi's current term would be extended two years until 2024, after which he'd be permitted to run again), the ability for the president to appoint judges and a new prosecutor, and declaring the military, which Sisi used to command, "the guardian and protector" of Egypt's democracy and constitution.
Critics argue that the military declaration would give the armed forces too much power over the political realm, writes The Washington Post.
Sisi's reign has been criticized for alleged human rights abuses including silencing and imprisoning political dissidents and blocking internet access. And while technically the ultimate passing of the constitutional amendments rely on a public referendum — which could begin as early as next week — critics do not expect a fair vote. Indeed, Sisi's government has already clamped down on the opposition by blocking online petitions urging people to vote against the changes. Tim O'Donnell
A forthcoming study from political scientists at Princeton and Northwestern University suggests that the "estimated impact of average citizens' [policy] preferences drops precipitously, to a non-significant, near-zero level" when taking into account the preferences of interest groups and the economic elite. Additionally, among interest groups, those representing corporate interests, not mass-based organizations, are generally the most influential.
While the study's data may not be common knowledge, it is perhaps not surprising that pollafterpoll shows American mistrust of government is at an all-time high, with fewer than 20 percent of Americans trusting Washington most or all of the time. Meanwhile, the congressional approval rating remains low, at just 13 percent. Bonnie Kristian