Friday, May 25, 2012

Egyptian presidential elections put Morsi and Shafiq in the lead

Updated: As it looks now the Egyptian presidential elections will result in a run-off, next month, between the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, and Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister, Air Marshall Ahmed Shafiq. That is the worst possible outcome: a contest between the contra-revolutionary Shafiq, or the islamist Morsi. Who is worse: Shafiq, whose spokesman Ahmed Sarhan told the New York Times that  Shafiq would bring back security, and that ''the revolution has ended, it is one and a half years”?  Or Morsi, the candidate of the conservative islamist Brotherhood, with its preference for conservative values as embedded in the sharia?. Really a choice between two opposing devils, both of them from the past. 
The differences turned out to be extremely narrow. Morsy and Shafiq received respectively 24.9 and 24.5 percent of the votes in the first round. The two outran the three other viable contenders: Nasserist Hamdeen Sabbahi (21.1 percent), moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh (17.8 percent), and former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa (11.3 percent). These results are still unofficial, the final count will be annnounced on Tuesday.
The one positive surprise was that Sabbahi, the secular, leftist (Nasserist) candidate who is for more equality and taxing the rich, did so well. Other surprises were that Abouel Foutouh after all not seemed to have profited enough of the support the Salafist had promised him, and that Amr Moussa appeared to have been far less appealing to the voters than was expected. Now the big question mark is going to be for whom  the people who did not vote for Shafiq or Morsi, (and together they represent almost more voters than these two put together) are going to vote in the second round. For Shafiq, or for Morsi. Or not at all.

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