Egypt’s Political Economy and the Downfall of the Mubarak Regime
This paper examines the political economy of Egypt to explain the downfall of the Mubarak regime in 2011. As background, we briefly examine the Nasser and the Sadat regimes. The Nasser regime was authoritarian and implemented a policy of public sector expansion, nationalization of foreign and large domestic assets and subsidies for basic consumption goods. These measures promoted equity, but soon ran into serious financial problems. The Sadat regime changed direction and introduced Infitah (openness) in 1974. The economy did not perform well and the regime ran into severe economic and political crisis. The Mubarak regime continued the open door economic policy. Economic crises continued to plague the regime. In the 1990s, the Mubarak regime implemented the IMF-sponsored Structural Adjustment Program (SAP). While successfully addressing macroeconomic issues, it also gave rise to undesirable effects on the economy and society. The effort to privatize the economy was intensified in the 2000s. The way the SAP was implemented led to corruption, concentration of economic and political power, rising inequality, poverty and unemployment. Protest movements against these developments gradually gathered steam. With the spark lit in Tunisia where crowds successfully ousted President Ben Ali,Egyptians rose up in protest, leading to the downfall of the Mubarak regime.The lessons are that Egypt must focus on equity and openness and the IMF cannot ignore the harmful effects of its SAP.
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