Constitutional Revolution & the Arab Spring
Abbe Sieyes, Guttenberg, and Habermas: Constitutional Revolutions in Egypt and the Arab World

Denis Galligan, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford, Mila Versteeg, Associate Professor of Law, University of Virginia and Nathan Brown, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University


This discussion assesses why the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt took constitutional form, given the previous constitutional histories and discussions. And second, can the revolutionary impulse to constitutionalize political authority succeed? Over the past decade, long before the fall of the Mubarak regime, Egyptian political debates turned sharply in a constitutional direction. Since then, the debates have been passionate, personal, and highly partisan (with likely majority actors favoring majoritarian devices, for instance). Judges, political activists, opposition activists, and the Muslim Brotherhood have all put forward suggestions for constitutional reform that often bear a surface resemblance to each other - but when one reads the details, one finds that the suggestions reflect very much the interests of the various parties involved. It is doubtful that the high hopes of Egypt's various communities and parties can be met. But an observer comparing current Egyptian debates to the abstract deliberations of 1971 cannot escape the conclusion that passion and interest - and, along with them, politics - have returned to Egyptian constitutional debates.