But critics say the draft contains enough vaguely worded articles that it could allow Morsi and his allies to introduce a much larger role for religion in the affairs of the state. In particular, detractors say they are concerned about the lack of protections for women and religious minorities.
The draft maintains the vast powers of Egypt’s military, which has been keeping a wary eye on the street clashes and has warned both sides against an escalation. Morsi has given the armed forces the authority to arrest civilians and protect the “vital facilities of the state” until the results of the referendum are announced.
In Egypt, demonstrations are expected for -- and against -- the new constitution, which has become a referendum on President Mohamed Morsi.
More from Egypt
The interior ministry and its black-clad riot police have become a sign of renewed repression.
Demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi persisted into a second week in major cities.
In another switch, the liberal, secular National Salvation Front meets with the ultra-conservative Nour party.
In Port Said, what started with a harsh court verdict has spiraled into something much larger.
Groups had vowed to run as a single party in parliamentary elections, but coalition is fracturing.
Balloting will take place over two days, with the second round on Dec. 22, because there are not enough judges available to monitor the voting at all the polling places. Many judges have said that they will refuse to supervise the vote, after Morsi issued a decree late last month giving himself extraordinary powers amid a standoff with the judiciary.
At the protest camp outside the presidential palace Friday, demonstrator Wael Abou Elil said he had no doubt that the vote would be rigged in favor of the Islamists. And when that happens, he said, “the people will flow into the streets like rain, and they won’t stop until Morsi goes.”
Elil, 42, is a curator of a makeshift museum of the revolution, which includes candlelight tributes to the movement’s “martyrs,” souvenirs such as tear gas canisters, and photos documenting particularly bloody moments in Egypt’s struggle. The images begin with the uprising against Mubarak but go on to depict many more campaigns against myriad adversaries, including the military, the police, Israel and, now, the Brotherhood.
The exhibit reflects the fractious opposition’s difficulty in developing a unified message for the country, beyond contempt for its enemies.
With Egypt struggling economically amid the turmoil, analysts said many here simply want to put the past two years behind them and move ahead with any vision for the country that will bring greater stability.
“The country is facing a major economic crisis. People are poor, and they can’t make ends meet,” said Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, a political science professor at Cairo University. “Talk about political rights doesn’t matter as much to people right now as talk of economic opportunity.”