Posts Tagged ‘Charles II’

English history offers a parallel for Egyptian political reform (1)

July 5, 2013

A revolution against Stuart tyranny erupted in England in 1642. Following a violent civil war, King Charles 1 was executed by Parliament in 1649 on the instructions of Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell’s Model Army then instituted a newly-empowered parliament. That parliament quickly fell under the dictatorship of Lord Protector Cromwell. When Cromwell died in 1658, and his son Richard (Tumbledown Dick) assumed the position of Lord Protector, the English army, split and its leading generals rebelled against parliament. In 1660, a repentant parliament, acting under military orders, restored Charles II to the throne. Charles II, followed by his brother James, ruled England as Divine Right autocrats until James was deposed in a bloodless revolution in 1688. An outside army from Holland then re-established order and introduced a new constitutional order.

Thus far a parallel with Egypt is clear, though the Egyptian time line is dramatically shorter. President Mubarak played the role of Charles I of England, and was deposed by popular revolution, aided by the Egyptian army. The army played a transitional role in arranging for a president and a parliament to be elected. As with England in 1649, the Egyptian electorate proved to be insufficiently mature to support a pluralistic democracy. As with Tumbledown Dick in 1660 England, the Egyptian army once again intervened to depose the utterly incompetent, religious bigot, President Morsi.

In tomorrow’s column, I shall briefly outline the error made by England in the 1660 restoration, an error that resulted in 28 further years of autocracy before England eventually resolved its political quandary. I shall then outline hoe the Egyptian army might usefully proceed to shorten the time-horizon for evolution to effective governance.