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埃及潜力

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小编摘要:1990年代的民主化浪潮中,人们普遍认为推翻独裁统治是最难的。如果一个国家的人民能够打倒独裁政权,那么这个国家便会完成民主化的转变。如果有了明智的领导,埃及完全有可能成为正常民主世界的一员。

In the 1990s, at the height of the democratic revolutions, many people assumed that getting rid of the dictator was the hard part. If the people in a country could topple the old regime, then their country would make the transition toward democracy.

But in 2002, Thomas Carothers gathered the evidence and wrote a seminal essay called “The End of the Transition Paradigm,” pointing out that moving away from dictatorship does not mean moving toward democracy. Many countries end up in a “gray zone,” with semi-functioning governments and powerful oligarchies.

Since then, a mountain of research has established that countries with strong underlying institutions have better odds of making it to democracy. Some scholars argue that political institutions matter most — having independent political parties. Others say social institutions matter most — having a cross-cutting web of citizen, neighborhood and religious groups.

So I’ve been reading reports from the United Nations, the World Bank and other groups to see what they say about the strength of Egypt’s institutions. These reports give the impression that Egypt is a place where people are trying to lead normal, middle-class lives, but they are frustrated at every turn by overstaffed and lethargic bureaucracies.

For example, Egypt does a good job of getting kids to attend elementary school, high school and college. But the quality of the educational system is terrible, ranking 106th out of 131 nations in one measure. The U.N. Human Development Index, which is a broad measure of human capital and potential, ranks Egypt 101st out of 182 countries.

The quality of government agencies over all is a tad better. The World Bank Institute puts Egypt at around the 40th percentile when it comes to government effectiveness. It puts Egypt in the 50th percentile when it comes to the quality of regulations and rule of law. Where it really lags is in measures of responsiveness and accountability. Egypt’s government agencies are among the least responsive on earth.

The government’s economic reform effort illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of the governing institutions. The World Bank gives Egypt high marks for its efforts to move from a centrally planned to a more market-oriented economy. For example, an entrepreneur now has to go through only six procedures to start a company, taking an average of seven days. In 2007, Egypt ranked 165th out of 175 nations in ease of doing business. By 2011, it had moved up to 94th out of 183.

But corruption levels are around the global average, which is to say, corruption is rife. It takes 218 days to get a building permit to put up a warehouse, with all the attending bribes. The effort to privatize state-owned enterprises turned into an enrichment scheme for cronies of the regime. For example, only two families were allowed to bid for the state-run cinema company.

Over all, Egypt’s competitiveness is mediocre but not terrible. The World Economic Forum ranks Egypt 81st out of the 139 nations it evaluates. When you look inside the economic rankings, you see that Egypt does fine on many of the short-term decisions, like having a flexible wage structure, but it does horribly on long-term things. Its companies devote very little money to research and development. It is suffering from one of the worst brain drains in the world.

Socially, the country seems stymied. Up until the recent rallies, Egypt has been a place where people have tried to build informal groups like unions and professional organizations, only to see the government move in to stifle or co-opt their efforts. The country has some nongovernmental organizations, but far fewer than the global average, and those that exist are restricted and dominated by the government. Journalists have tried to create a space for a free press, but with only moderate success. (With 20 percent of Egyptians going online, Egypt has one of the highest rates of Internet penetration in Africa.)

The biggest gap, by far, is political. The government has successfully prevented political parties from forming, with limited exceptions like the Muslim Brotherhood. Party-building is the country’s screaming need and should be the top priority for outside assistance.

Egypt is in much better shape than Iraq was under Saddam Hussein or Gaza was before Hamas took over. It’s a 40 percent nation, mediocre in the world rankings, but not a basket case. Surveys showed that until about a week ago, Egyptians had extraordinarily low expectations for the future, among the lowest in the world.

But now things seem to be changing. And while you wouldn’t say that Egypt possesses the sort of human, social and institutional capital that will enable it to achieve miracles over the next few years, you’d have to say it has some decent underlying structures. And, if led wisely, it has a reasonable shot at joining the normal, democratic world.


1990年代的民主化浪潮中,人们普遍认为推翻独裁统治是最难的。如果一个国家的人民能够打倒独裁政权,那么这个国家便会完成民主化的转变。

但在2002年,Thomas Carothers 搜集证据,撰写了一篇名为《社会转型定式的终结》的开创性论文。他在文中指出,远离独裁并不意味着迈向民主。很多国家最终沦为“灰色地带”——半运作状态的政府和强权的寡头政治。

从那时候开始,很多研究便指出,一个有着强大底层社会公共机构的社会,更有可能向民主社会转型。一些学者认为政治团体(独立政党)的作用最为重要,而另一些学者则认为社会团体(互相交叉的公民、街道、宗教团体)的作用最重要。

于是我找来联合国、世界银行和其他一些组织的相关报告,看他们是怎么评价埃及的这些团体的实力。这些报告中说,埃及人民想要过上正常、中产的生活,但臃肿和迟钝的官僚机构却让人们灰心丧气。

举例来说,埃及在保证孩子们能够上中小学和大学方面做得不错。但是教育的质量就太糟了,在一项指标中,埃及排在世界131个国家的106位。联合国人类发展指数(一项评价人力资本和潜力的广泛指标)则把埃及排在182个国家的101位。

政府机构的质量也好不到哪里去。世界银行评估埃及的政府效率为40%。法规法制的效率则为50%。而这也是埃及最缺乏反应能力和问责机制的部门。埃及政府是全世界最低效的政府之一。

政府在经济改革方面的努力最能突显政府机构的长处和弱点。世界银行对埃及从计划经济向市场经济的转型努力评价颇高。比如说,企业家只需要走6道程序就能成立一家公司,平均耗费7天。2007年,在经商难易程度上,埃及排名175个国家中的165位,而到了2011年,埃及已上升到了183个国家的94位。

埃及的腐败程度处于世界平均水平,也就是说“腐败横行”。要花上218天,不断的贿赂才能拿到一座仓库的建筑许可。而国企私有化则成了政权姻亲的致富模式。比如说,只有两大家族才可以竞标国营电影公司。

总体来说,埃及的竞争力差强人意,但也不算太糟。世界经济论坛把埃及排在139个国家的第81位。如果你仔细看一下这些评价指标就会发现,埃及在一些短期决策上做得挺好(比如灵活的工资结构),但是长期决策则很差。埃及的公司在研究和开发上投入的资金很少。埃及也是人才流失最严重的国家之一。

社会层面上来说,这个国家似乎陷入了停滞。直到最近的集会游行,埃及人民一直在试图建立正式的公会或者专业团体,但是却屡遭政府扼杀。这个国家有一些非政府组织,但是却远低于世界平均水平。现存的这些或是被限或是受政府控制。记者们努力开创自由媒体的空间,但并不怎么成功。(20%的埃及人上网,使埃及成为非洲互联网普及率最高的国家之一。)

目前为止最大的困难还是政治层面的。除了“穆斯林兄弟会”这样的特例,埃及政府成功地阻止了许多政治团体的成立。解除党禁是埃及的当务之急,也是埃及最需要外援的方面。

埃及比萨达姆治下的伊拉克和哈马斯控制的加沙都要好得多。这是个发挥了40%的国家,在世界排名上表现平庸,但也不是最差。调查表明,直到一周前,埃及人对未来的期望都是出乎意料的低,属于全世界最低的之一。

但现在事情正在起变化。虽然不能说埃及具有人力、社会和公共机构方面的资本使其在未来几年出现奇迹,但是不得不承认埃及的一些基层组织还是挺像样的。如果有了明智的领导,埃及完全有可能成为正常民主世界的一员。

标签:埃及 潜力
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2011-02-08 17:32 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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