Egyptians are going to the polls today and tomorrow for the first round of the presidential elections. There are 13 candidates, but only four of them stand a chance to win. All four of them belong in one way or other to the conservative establishment. Two are remnants of the Mubarak era: Amr Moussa was Mubarak's foreign minister and his choice for the post of secretary-general of the Arab Ligue, and Ahmed Shafiq was Mubarak's last prime minister. Two others are islamists: Abdel-Moneim Abouel Foutouh is a 'moderate', and Mohamed Morsi is the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Egyptian revolution was initiated by workers (the textile workers of Mehallat al-Kubra for instance) and spearheaded by young, well educated members of the middle classes who formed the nucleus of the portest of Tahrir and in other cities. A large majority of the Egyptians however is not progressive at all. They may have been happy with the disappearance of the Mubarak-dynastie, but at the moment they are strongly in favour of stability, security and family values. Consequently candidates of the progressive '25 January at Tahrir'' trend are not going to win. There are three of them: the young lawyer Khaled Aly, co-founder of the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, the judge and human rights activists Hisham Bastawisi and the leader of the Nasserist Karameh party Hamdeen Sabahy. All three are strongly in favour of a ''civic'' (codeword for secular) society, based on human rights and a strong constitutional system. The majority of Egyptians, however, will give their vote to representatives of the past.
The writer Khaled al-Khamissi related in the Egypt Independent (Al-Masry al-Youm) the elections to a of nightmare he had during his sleep. He compared the fact that only thes four candidates stand a chance to a game of Russian roulette: Mohamed Morsy and Abouel Fotouh are opposed to the civil camp that advocates human rights, while Shafiq and Moussa belong to a camp opposed to the values of social justice.
and he concludes:
Hundreds of millions were spent on these electoral campaigns, and the media machine has been working to make the Egyptians feel that they are going through a historic experience. They promoted the idea that this presidential election is the outstanding result of the Egyptian revolution and that the people now have a say.
The truth is, this election is worthless, for it is being conducted in a society that lacks a healthy political life, one that lacks genuine parties and political powers. This election will bring a useless president who will be unable to change the structure of the old regime.
Hope lies in the revolutionary and social mobility. Change will come from the bottom, at the hands of the hundreds of movements, coalitions and blocs that emit hope. It is this that will change the face of Egypt.
And then we did not yet mention the fact that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) apparently is preparing to issue an addition tot the constitutional declaration that was approved by referendum last year. According to press reports this addition, that has been discussed with some political parties, will curtail the power of the president and keep the duty of preserving the stability and security of Egypt in the hands of the military. Consequently the military will retain the right to appoint the key ministers of foreign affairs, finance, interior and defense, while the rest of the cabinet will be appointed by the parliament.
The president will reportedly only retain the power to dissolve Parliament and appoint the public prosecutor, the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar and the grand mufti of the state. He cannot go to war without approval from Parliament and the SCAF, which also reportedly wanted to keep the last word in any legislation concerning the armed forces and keep the right to keep its budget a secret as it is now.
PosPosters in Cairo