Thursday, 24 May 2012

Egypt-Elections: A clear-cut break with the past?

Opinion polls have little experience and no record in Egypt. This might explain the considerable divergence of projections over who might win the first round of elections. Few believe that any one candidate will secure the required 50% of the vote. That leaves the possibility of virtually any combination of two of the four or five top candidates going into run-off elections. One could see Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq; or Morsi and Aboul Fotouh; or AbdelMoneim Aboul Fotouh and Amr Moussa; the one combination that would appear unlikely is Shafiq and Moussa as they both appeal to a similar constituency.

Each of them would have a slightly different attitude towards office and the relationship with parliament and the government. Amr Moussa, who has little domestic support base, would be likely to seek to strengthen the powers of the presidency. Shafiq would do likewise, and reach across to the military from whose senior ranks he sprang.

Morsi, by contrast, could count on support from parliament which is dominated by members of his party. His victory would mean the domination of the new political institutions - the parliament and the presidency - by a single party. More nuanced would be Aboul Fotouh, who is portraying himself as no one's and everyone's man.

What had promised to be the end of the transitional phase is nothing of the sort. The presidential elections are just one more step on the way. They are not going to mark the clear-cut break with the past and the dawning of a new future that the revolutionaries who thronged Tahrir Square in January and February last year had dreamt of. But by the same token, they have to acknowledge that they are getting an elected president, and the army is committed to withdrawing from political life: those are very real gains for the blood spilt by those young activists to topple the old regime.

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

© 2012 Menas Associates

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