Egypt's "Liberal Experiment" took place between 1924 and 1936.
The Wafd Party saw independence and constitutional government linked. While the British did not agree with full independence, they certainly liked the idea of European-style constitutional government. The country's first elections for parliament were held in January 1924. Saad Zaghlul, the leader of the Wafd party, was elected Prime Minister of Egypt.
Egypt's only attempt to establish parliamentary institutions along European lines was short lived. Reasons suggested for the failure of the Liberal Experiment include:
- Nature of the constitution: It awarded extensive powers to the king, including the right to appoint the prime minister and dissolve parliament, and so created a weak legislature.
- British Interference: They continued to undermine the integrity of the parliamentary government.
- No compromise: Neither the Wafd nor any of the smaller parties adopted the principles of compromise and respect for the opposition that are essential for the proper conduct of constitutional government.
- Continual struggle: Politics was not focused on the nation but on the struggle between the Wafd, the monarchy, and the British.