Chances are dim that elections will be held in Yemen next February. Yet without elections, the push for reforms and change that were inspired by the Yemeni revolution would become devoid of any real value. Yemenis might find themselves back on the street, repeating the original demands that echoed in the country’s many impoverished cities, streets and at every corner.
It is not easy to navigate the convoluted circumstances that govern Yemeni politics, which seem to be in a perpetual state of crisis. When millions of Yemenis started taking to the streets on January 27, 2011, a sense of hope prevailed that Yemen would be transformed from a country ruled by elites, and mostly beholden to outside regional and international powers, to a country of a different type: one that responds to the collective aspirations of its own people.
Instead, after a long stalemate that pinned most of the country and its political representatives against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his supporters, Gulf countries brokered a power transfer deal. The deal however sidelined Saleh, but not his family and their proponents.
It is of little help that interim President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was elected to guide the transition for a two-year period in 2012, is no revolutionary. True, he seemed sincere in his attempt to curb Saleh’s still prevailing influence over many of the country’s institutions, but that is hardly enough. Saleh’s supporters are still powerful and the former ruling class is fighting back for relevance and influence. This results from a combination of deepening poverty and a failure to translate any of the revolution’s demands into any tangible solutions that could be felt by the country’s poor and marginalized classes.