Can Egypt’s Technocrats Solve The Country’s Problems?

Technocracy, once associated with communism under the former Soviet Union where leaders and members were mostly engineers, has taken on a different dimension.  Now, governments of “experts” pushed in Italy and Greece to solve economic problems are the modern-day technocracies.

In Egypt, president Mohamed Morsi has decided upon a government made up of mostly technocrats.

But can technocrats – scientists, engineers and technologists – solve Egypt’s economic and wider problems better than politicians and businessmen/women?

The idea is the hope is that such a move will calm the markets, stave off speculation, and reassure international financial institutions with a solid, sometimes banal, hand.   Traditional political powers associated with corruption, blowing budgets and theatrical decisions, are pushed aside in favour of of technos who apparently have no interest in wooing the masses.

The traditional politicos, having blown their budgets and maxed out their national credit pandering to the public beast, are pushed aside in favor of technos who supposedly have no interest in wooing the masses.

It can work, this Economist post argues, as long as it’s for a short period of time:

Countries where electoral mandates are the ultimate source of political legitimacy usually turn to full-scale technocratic governments only for a short time, under a specific mandate and in unusual circumstances.”

Even in highly political governments, the Economist article says, “technocrats rule big chunks of public life: central bankers are one example, typically enjoying huge constitutional protection from politicians’ interference. So are regulators and, in a sense, the unsackable legal experts who work as judges.”

Sounds a lot like every country in the world.

Even former president Hosni Mubarak’s cabinets were technocratic until, in 2004, he allowed his son Gamal to appoint his favourite businessmen friends to change the course of the country’s economy.  But these figures were later charged with corruption crimes including steel magnate Ahmed Ezz and former trade minister Rachid Mohammed Rachid.

But Morsi’s choices are just safe, pragmatic in the most unambitious way and are anything but visionary.   As Christopher Dickey, at the Daily Beast, puts it:

“The problem right now—in Europe, the United States, and much of the rest of the world—is not a failure to make the numbers add up. It’s the lack of political leaders with the guts, the smarts, and the charisma to persuade their constituents to accept the painful bottom line.”

Take note, Morsi.

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