Date: 29 Jul 2013, Politics and Current Affairs
Question setter: Peter Wilson

Egypt 2013

Will Hazem el Beblawi be Prime Minister of Egypt on 30 September 2013?


Answer: Yes
Confidence level: 33%
Mean confidence level (all requests): 72.60%

The possible reasons for Hazem el Beblawi leaving his post by 30th September are:
1. A successful counter-coup. This seems unlikely with the army's current power and support.
2. Assassination or early death. The balance of probability is against his death but it's not impossible.
3. Resignation. The most likely possibility. el Beblawi will probably have to wrestle with his conscience a great deal over the coming weeks. It is unlikely that the time will pass without fatal violence, either from the army directly suppressing Muslim Brotherhood protests, as already seen, or from Army Chief Sisi calling for counter protests. Over 100 have already died since president Morsi was deposed. In October 2011, as finance minister, el Beblawi resigned when the army killed Coptic Christians. The risks are high. The army has declared a"state of alert", rallies are being called and the Islamist parties do not want to negotiate. Morsi's detention has been extended for "spying for Hamas". It will be difficult for el-Beblawi to stick to his principles if the death toll continues to mount and he stays. Nevertheless, this time he will want to remain as a moderating force, appealing for national reconciliation and peaceful protest.

Outcome: Yes
Score: 33
Mean score (all respondents): 72.60

Expert opinion:

Answer: Yes

Selected Expert Answer from Sir Jeremy Greenstock:
Gatehouse offering on Egypt:
Hazem el Beblawi will still be Prime Minister of Egypt on 30 September 2013. His appointment and performance will be the subject of rising criticism, not just for its genuinely doubtful legitimacy, but in particular because no improvement will be discernible in the Egyptian economy. A majority of Egyptians, nevertheless, will have as their first concern the avoidance of a complete breakdown in the country's stability, as violence continues, and by September they will not totally have abandoned the hope that the Army can preside over a process leading to new elections. From the Army's viewpoint, too early a change in government, even if things are not going well, will undermine their own credibility. They will probably be capable of sustaining their position for three months. Whether the situation can last into 2014 is another matter.

Answer: Yes

Selected Expert Answer from Peter Wilson:
It has been announced that the new constitution will take at least 90 days to prepare, so it is most unlikely that an election could be held before 30 Sept. So the question is whether Beblawi would choose to leave or be forced to step down.

The new Government has commanded broad international acquiescence, and evidence from the past two and a half years shows that the military and security forces can successfully enforce their will. The Muslim Brotherhood have so far failed to dominate street protests and have not brought any major City to a standstill. It therefore seems unlikely that the MB could successfully oust the new PM within the next two months, against the wishes of a significant portion of the population and the military/security forces.

Whether Beblawi will choose to stay is unpredictable, but recent appearances suggest he is currently confident in his role.

On balance, it seems likely Beblawi will still be in position by end September.

Answer: No

Selected Expert Answer from Mettletest Panellist:
Hazem el Beblawi is a man with some principles. He tendered his resignation as finance minister of the military led government in Oct 2011. This was in reaction to the army killings of Coptic Christians. He is unlikely to stay put if there is evidence of army violence over the next two months to 30th September. Unfortunately the chances of violent suppression and fatalities, when confronting pro-Morsi rallies, are high. We have seen it happen already. The army's chief, Sisi's, calls for counter-protests against "violence and potential terrorism" also risk bloody confrontations. El-Beblawi may appeal for national reconciliation and say that "Egypt is a civilian state, not a religious or military state," but his moderation will be drowned out. The army declaring a "state of alert" and continuing to detain deposed president Morsi for "spying for Hamas" are clear indications that immediate, peaceful resolution is unlikely. It does not matter that many Egyptians are fed up with the Muslim Brotherhood. The group still has the organisational ability to mobilise masses. The army seems unable to resist heavy-handed responses. If deaths continue to mount, will the 76 year old PM just remain flapping his hands for calm? No, he will feel obliged to resign.

Outcome: Yes

Comment on outcome from Mettletest Panellist:
El Beblawi has remained in place. He retained support from the military. Rather than resigning over the high bloodshed inflicted on the Muslim Brotherhood supporters of ex-president Morsi, he claimed it was necessary to preserve the road map to democracy. “The government could not have proceeded with amending the constitution and holding polls without dispersing Rabaa and Al-Nahda, especially as they were not peaceful,” said El-Beblawi, quoted in Egypt's Daily News. (The vice president and democracy advocate Mohammed ElBaradei did not share that view and left the government. He has since been vilified and accused of secret negotiations with the Muslim Brotherhood, although he decried their rule). El Beblawi will now face more severe tests. As Sir Jeremy predicted, he is subject to rising criticism over the economy and his offers of wage increases are being dismissed as too little and too late by workers' unions. The unions threaten a third revolution unless their demands are met and are wary of fire power being turned on them once the Muslim Brotherhood has been dealt with. The passage to spring elections will be hard for the PM to navigate.