Egypt is in the early stages of a leadership succession that could swing the country toward greater openness and political competition or toward consolidated authoritarianism. President Mubarak has proposed extensive constitutional amendments that would shift some powers from the presidency to the legislative branch and revise rules for presidential and parliamentary elections, but observers are concerned that many of the changes may prove to be cosmetic. Crises in Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon have hindered the United States from pursuing its stated goal of Middle East democracy promotion, yet these developments present a unique opportunity to urge meaningful reform in Egypt without endangering stability or key regional relationships. 

In a new Carnegie Policy Outlook, Time to Pursue Democracy in Egypt, Michele Dunne outlines the major implications of Egypt’s current political climate and presents four key issues on which the U.S. should focus its attention: presidential term limits, greater freedom for political parties and movements, independent election oversight, and limiting executive branch powers under a new counter-terrorism law.

“The challenge for the United States is to capitalize on the current situation of flux to encourage further opening of the political space, with an eye toward the emergence of broader and fairer competition in the new political era that is unfolding,” Dunne said.

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Michele Dunne is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment and editor of the Arab Reform Bulletin. A specialist on Middle East affairs, formerly at the State Department and White House, Dunne is author of Evaluating Egyptian Reform, Integrating Democracy Promotion into U.S. Middle East Policy, and Libya: Security Is Not Enough, all available at

To request an interview with Dunne on Egyptian Politics or U.S.-Egypt relations, contact:

Trent Perrotto, (tel) 202/939-2372,

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States. Founded in 1910, its work is nonpartisan and dedicated to achieving practical results.