Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

What Next in Egypt?

February 5, 2011

How can Egypt enter into a post-authoritarian era? Institute Director Michael D. Kennedy and Cogut Center Fellow Shiva Balaghi cite a model from Poland's political transition in 1989 in an essay in Jadaliyya, an online magazine produced by the Arab Studies Institute, a network of writers associated with the Arab Studies Journal.

In 1989, "the Polish government organized a series of roundtable discussions with the Solidarity Movement," Kennedy and Balaghi write. "The street protests moved into roundtable negotiations. The Polish Round Table made enemies into collaborators and showed the way towards radical but non-violent change."

In Egypt today, "accountability and freedom must be part of the equation for change in Egypt. Replacing Mubarak without instituting real political, social, and economic reform will only punt the ball and leave the Egyptian playing field open to malfeasance," the authors write.

"What Egyptians and the international community must do is set a table with room for many men and women who can sit and talk in private about building an alternative future for Egypt."