Prior to the 2011 Arab uprisings, Islamist parties in most Arab states had been systematically prevented from exercising any meaningful authority in government. Following President Mubarak’s ouster from power in 2011, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) established a political party, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), and formally entered mainstream politics, providing a rare opportunity to examine the role of an Islamist party in the context of democratic transition. Contrary to concerns that the MB might use Egypt’s political opening to install an undemocratic regime, the movement instead committed itself to electoral politics and consistently adhered to the framework for political transition. An analysis of the MB’s political trajectory during the 2011–2013 timeframe reveals that the movement endeavoured to protect Egypt’s democratic transition against the encroachment of the military and the judiciary. Despite the FJP’s efforts, sustained interference by non-elected institutions brought Egypt’s democratic experiment to a premature end. This course of events confirms that an Islamist movement is capable of fully committing to politics, but also indicates that political commitment alone is insufficient to ensure a successful transition to democratic governance.
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