Although commentators have been quick to call the January 25th movement a "revolution," democracy activists are painfully aware that their struggle has only just begun. What will make the movement a true revolution, and not merely a successful rebellion against Mubarak, are institutional reforms that fundamentally reorder political life. Constitutional amendments are the critical first step to empowering representative institutions and constraining the arbitrary exercise of power. Not coincidentally, constitutional amendments also provide the key test of the military's willingness to break from the past.
In this context, the highly anticipated amendments to the Egyptian Constitution were unveiled by the Constitutional Reform Committee this past Saturday. The Committee, which had been appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in mid-February, was charged with proposing constitutional amendments within 10 days. After soliciting public feedback, the finalized amendments will be voted on in a national referendum in two months time.
Now that the committee has released its work, Egyptians and foreign analysts will be asking whether the proposed amendments are meaningful, and whether they constitute a fundamental break from the past. My own view is that the proposed amendments, by themselves, do not yet constitute a fundamental break from the past, but they do open a viable path to further political reform.