Thursday, 9 December 2010

Egypt: The presidential elections will likewise be an irrelevance

The parliamentary elections are over. We shall see in the next few days how Egypt's rulers digest the results. President Hosni Mubarak is due to make one of those key speeches that will indicate what changes he will make. Given his record, these will be changes in personnel rather than in direction.

Constitutionally, the elections also pre-qualify parties now able to put forward candidates for the presidential elections due next year. Article 76 of the constitution stipulates that only parties with representatives in parliament or the Shura Council may submit candidates for the presidency. The opposition parties won barely a handful of seats between them but one seat is enough. As a result, eight parties will be able to nominate presidential candidates.

Besides the National Democratic Party (NDP), they are the liberal Wafd Party, the leftist Tagammu Party, and the smaller Ghad, Geel, Nasserist, Al-Salam and Social Justice parties. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is not a party so cannot field a candidate. Two individuals often thought to be hopefuls — Mohamed El Baradei and Omar Suleiman — are in theory barred because they are not members of such parties.

What the parliamentary elections have shown, however, is that the Egyptian authorities have scant regard for legal niceties in the determination of who should be their rulers. The elections were marred by widespread fraud, despite the denials of leading party leaders. The presidential elections will likewise be an irrelevance. The system in Egypt will throw up the person who will succeed President Mubarak at the appropriate time. The people will not have a say. It was ever thus.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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