The Party of European Socialists (PES) and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament (the S&D Group) have described President Mohamed Morsi’s plans for a constitutional referendum as an “irresponsible act” against the will of the people. As a debate was held in the European Parliament today on the unrest in Egypt, the progressive forces have called for measures to calm the situation.
S&D Group president Hannes Swoboda said: "A broad consensus on the constitution is important to ensure internal peace and stability. However, this cannot be achieved by hastily implementing the constitution – a full public debate is needed. A constitution is not just about confirming existing traditions but must also be about building a modern, open and tolerant society. I have doubts about whether the proposed text of the new constitution will fulfill this task, in particular regarding the rights of women. Egypt needs a new democratic constitution with a clear separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial authorities, and with full respect for the human rights and public freedoms of all Egyptian citizens. To achieve this, an inclusive dialogue between all political forces is now imperative."
PES President Sergei Stanishev stated that: “the constitutional referendum is an irresponsible act that disregards any true social and political consensus. President Morsi actually believes that he can dictate the democratic rules, that he can impose democracy by unilaterally pushing for a new constitution and going against the will of the people. Mr. Stanishev added that; “now, more than ever, we need responsible actors to concentrate on laying solid foundations for a democracy that will last. The welfare of the people of Egypt is at stake. This will be one of the main issues on 19-20 January when the Global Progressive Forum, with the PES and S&D will co-host an International Conference in Cairo with Egyptian Social Democrats. The conference, entitled ‘A common vision for a progressive Arab world’, will be crucial in bringing together major progressive actors in the region”.
NOTE: In the last weeks, President Morsi has stirred a wave of protests across Egypt by intending to grant himself sweeping new powers and by rushing a draft constitution without any agreement or consensus. The “National Salvation Front”, a coalition of Egypt’s progressive and democratic forces including the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, has rejected the 15 December referendum due to the constitution’s disregard for women’s rights, personal freedoms and the fundamental role of the judiciary.
It is feared that the holding of the referendum will further polarize the Egyptian society and provoke a dramatic escalation of violence.