Egypt – Constitution suspended

Egypt’s brief flirtation with semi-presidentialism is over. The army have taken power, suspended the Constitution, and declared that the President of the Constitutional Council has replaced President Morsi.

The Egyptian constitution was signed into law by President Morsi on 26 December 2012. So, it has lasted little more than 6 months.

Given Egypt’s difficult situation generally, should any specific provisions of the semi-presidential element of the Constitution be blamed for the collapse? Well, the Constitution did balance powers within the executive in some respects, but there were some blanket clauses that gave the president considerable power if the government was a willing partner and it was. Certainly, President Morsi was willing to exercise the powers that were at his disposal.

So, the collapse was almost certainly over-determined, but to the extent that the Constitution did provide some authority for an active president to govern actively, then it can probably be thrown into the mix.

Overall, though, it is difficult to see how any constitutional procedures relating to executive/legislative relations could have prevented a collapse in the end. The difficulties with governance lie elsewhere.

So, by my calculations there are now 51 countries with a semi-presidential constitution. Two have been lost this year, the Central African Republic being the other one. A full list is available here.

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