Friday 25 May 2012

Lessons we will soon forget

As the final results of the first round of Egypt's presidential elections are revealed, some tendencies in the voting behavior & thinking of Egyptians become clear. As usual, we will not take that into account & will not try to learn from our mistakes in order to rectify what has gone wrong, but here are my two cents:

Most importantly, candidates with a clear program and who've spoken without vagueness about their goals and ideology, seem to be scoring much better. Morsy was the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, a vote for him was a vote for the "Renaissance" project, which didn't really belong to him, but to the Muslim Brotherhood as a whole (some would argue to the Islamists in general). An Islamist who wishes for a greater role for religion in the state and who has said that clearly, Morsy has succeeded, together with the organizational force and weight of the Brotherhood to take the majority of the votes.

Shafik has never denied being a regime man or a military man, in fact, he has spoken out in their advantage many times. Trying to garner the support of Egyptians opposed to Islamists and tired of the chaos and insecurity they've been living in for the past yeah and a half, he promised Egyptians a quick return of security and a stable environment.

Moussa and Abu Al Fotouh tried to do it differently. Moussa, who had been minister of foreign affairs under Mubarak for a decade, tried to distance himself from the regime in front of the public. Reports say that as he was voting, he told a citizen who called him 'felool' (= remnant of the old regime) that that description wasn't 'accurate'. Moussa was known as the colorless candidate, not really strong on anything except his reputation as a good diplomat and speaker, he thus didn't manage to inspire.

Similarly Abul Fotouh, who had been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau, has tried to distance himself from the Brotherhood at times to appear a liberal, moderate Islamist, socialist, revolutionary.. you name it! He has supposedly said that even though he was officially no longer part of the organization, he will always be a Muslim Brother in spirit. His stances have been characterized by vagueness which explains a support base ranging from salafis to seculars.

Hamdeen Sabbahi whose campaign named him 'one of us' with a focus on Egypt's poor offered a clearer alternative to the former two candidates. A socialist, nasserist and revolutionary, Hamdeen stuck to the rhetoric aimed at normal Egyptians seeking work and better opportunities in life promising big national projects for instance. Many didn't expect Sabbahi to do as well as he did (as I'm writing this he comes in fourth, only about 28.000 votes away from AbulFotouh whose in third place).

The results are not final yet & there is a lot to be said about each candidate & why they managed to get the votes they received, but one thing is clear, Egyptians stand to face a tough choice: the Muslim Brotherhood candidate or the regime candidate. The question arises though: what form will the revolution take after the elections and how can it reinvent itself in light of the current results.

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