Chatham House: Independent thinking on international affairs

International Affairs

From revolutions to constitutions: the case of Egypt

Anthony F Lang Jr, March 2013

This article explores the transition from revolutions to constitutions in Egypt. In order to understand the current transition, the article compares events since 2011 to the 1919 constitutional revolution and the 1952 Free Officers' Movement.

In comparing these three revolutionary periods and the constitutions they produced, the article makes two overarching claims: first, a constitution does not arise from the fiat of wise lawgivers or experts in the rule of law. Rather, it emerges from a contentious political process in which competing agents and institutions seek to promote their own interests. This competitive process, however, is actually beneficial to constitution-making, constitutional politics and political life more widely.

Second, the article highlights that while the political dynamics of constitution-making in Egypt reveal domestic politics, the process of constitution-making also demonstrates how such dynamics take place in a global political context. Together, these two claims point up that constitutionalism is just as much a political movement as a legal doctrine.

international affairs cover
Moore Wilson Digital Agency London