In today’s session of IS 210 we analysed the concept of the state and also talked about the related political concepts of regime and government. We noted that they were conceptually distinct political phenomena with differing levels of institutionalisation–with the state being the most institutionalised, and the government being the least.
In the midst of continuing mass demonstrations against his rule in Egypt, president Hosni Mubarak has asked the government to resign. Mubarak seemingly hopes that the government’s resignation will appease the demonstrators. What’s interesting from our perspective–as students of comparative government–is that Mubarak hopes to maintain his regime at the expense of the government. It is accurate to call the current leadership of Mubarak a regime, since the norms/rules associated with political authority at the national level have been institutioinalised over the course of the almost three-decade reign by Mubarak as Egypt’s president. The question then becomes will the protesters be satisfied with a change in government alone, or will they insist on a change in the nature of this authoritarian regime, which will obviously not be effected without the removal from office of Mubarak himself. As in the case of many authoritarian regimes, in Egypt it is also true that the autocrat is the regime himself.
Here’s more from the CBC on Mubarak’s latest moves:
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says he has asked the government to resign and promised reforms as protests engulf his country.
In a televised speech broadcast early Saturday local time, Mubarak used his first public comments since the unrest began to defend the security crackdown on demonstrations.
“I assure you … I’m working for the people…. as long as you’re respecting the law,” Mubarak said.
“We have to be careful of anything that would allow chaos,” he said.
At the same, Mubarak tried to speak to the demonstrators who have filled Egypt’s streets for days.
“I’ll always be on the side of the poor,” he said. “I am with bettering the economy.”
Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for three decades, has been facing the biggest pressure of his tenure.
Before the president spoke, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters defied a night curfew and some reportedly set fire to Mubarak’s party headquarters in Cairo. Flames were seen licking at the National Democratic Party headquarters shortly after 6 p.m. local time, though it was not immediately confirmed how the fire began.
The best real-time coverage of the political events in Egypt is, in my opinion, Al-Jazeera. You can watch live streaming coverage of Al-Jazeera here.