"Skillfully synthesizing the work of Samer Soliman and Joel Beinin, Stacher does a wonderful job of uncovering the constant tension in Egypt’s post-1991 political economy between crisis spending and austerity programs, and how this tension was only deepened during the uprising and current regime."—Mona El-Ghobashy, New York University
"An excellent addition to the literature, one which stands out for its ability to deliver a perspective both on Egypt and on the broader question of revolution/counterrevolution, democracy/autocracy which is both empirically sophisticated and analytically informed."—Andrea Teti, University of Aberdeen
"Stacher provides a timely corrective to the transitology literature on the 2011-13 Egyptian uprising and convincingly shows that repression and democratization are not polar opposites, but flexible instruments in the toolkit of authoritarian rule. This is a must read for students of Egypt."—Elliott Colla, Georgetown University
In Egypt, something that fails to live up to its advertised expectations is often called a watermelon: a grand promise that later turns out to be empty talk. The political transition in Egypt after protests overthrew Husni Mubarak in 2011 is one such watermelon. Stacher examines the uprising and its aftermath to show how the country’s new ruling incumbents deferred the democratic dreams of the people of Egypt. At the same time, he lays out in meticulous fashion the circumstances that gave the army’s well-armed and well-funded institution an advantage against its citizens during and after Egypt’s turbulent transition.
Stacher outlines the ways in which Egypt’s military manipulated the country’s empowering uprising into a nightmare situation that now counts as the most repressive period in Egypt’s modern history. In particular, Stacher charts the opposition dynamics during uprisings, elections, state violence, and political economy to show the multiple ways autocratic state elites try to construct a new political regime on the ashes of a discredited one. As they encounter these different aspects working together as a larger process, readers come to grips with the totality of the military-led counterrevolution as well as understand why Egyptians rightfully feel they ended up living in a watermelon democracy.
List of Illustrations
Preface: A Watermelon Democracy
1. Retiring Mubarak: Protests, Opposition Relations, and Incumbent Ejection
2. Electoral Recalibration? Transitional Elections and Disempowerment
3. State Violence as Life: Regime-Making and Counterrevolution
4. An Uprising against Neoliberalism? The State, Military Inc., and the Political Economy of Egypt
Joshua Stacher is associate professor of political science at Kent State University. He is the author of Adaptable Autocrats: Regime Power in Egypt and Syria.
6 x 9, 288 pages, 4 black and white illustrations