This article examines the political economy drivers of the uprisings in Egypt in 2011 and 2013. It shows that there was a continuity in neoliberal economic policy from the rule of Hosni Mubarak through to that of Mohamed Morsi, accompanied by an increase in poverty and unemployment.
However, it was Egyptian citizens’ perception of the political dynamics behind the economic situation that drove them to revolt. In 2011, a sense of intolerable levels of corruption and the prospect of their continuation under Mubarak’s son, Gamal, made people responsive to calls for revolution; in 2013, it was the scale of their disappointment at the unmet promises for economic betterment.
In both cases, economic conditions were crucial, but political grievances and mobilisation ultimately determined and shaped the revolts.