Egypt has taken a big step toward democracy, by overcoming a weeks-long deadlock and agreeing on how to select the 100-member panel that will draft the country's new constitution. This new assembly will be drawn from a much wider spectrum of Egyptian society than the one previously proposed, in which Islamists had a near majority: now, it will include parliamentarians, members of the judiciary, youth, women, public figures, Muslim clerics and leaders of the Coptic church.
There's still lots of push and pull ahead, as power blocs and religious and cultural factions compete to influence the shape of the new Egyptian government. The military will try to keep much of its political and economic power, and the tug-of-war will continue between Islamists and secularists to decide how big a role religion should play. In fact, a high-profile judge has just declared that he wants to curb what he fears could become an Islamist monopoly on power. And indeed, a constitution in itself won't guarantee people's rights: the people who are given the power to uphold the constitution have to respect the rule of law.
But for now, the fact that the parties were able to compromise and agree on who gets to write the rule-book for a modern Egypt is an encouraging sign for this emerging democracy.
Further reading: The Financial Times profiles some of the dangers ahead ($) for Egypt.