Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Egyptian election results present ‘nightmare scenario’

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Fears of weeks of tension as results point to a run-off between the Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a former general.

Egypt looks set for weeks of tension and uncertainty after the first round of its landmark presidential election produced a runoff between the candidate backed by the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and a former general who is seen as a hangover from the regime of the deposed Hosni Mubarak.

In what many described as a “nightmare scenario” that will mean a polarised and possibly violent second round, Mohammed Morsi of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party polled around 26% in the two-day first round. Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, came second with 23% when 90% of the votes had been counted.

Amr Moussa, the former head of the Arab League, who tried to capture the centre ground, was knocked out. Late on Friday there was only a slight chance that the final picture would change when votes for Cairo and Giza were in.

Turnout was said to be around 40% of the 51m-strong electorate. Official results are yet to be published but a combination of exit polls, centrally collected data and reporting by the candidates appeared to confirm a dramatic runoff that many supporters of the revolution consider a catastrophic outcome. “It feels as if the revolution never took place,” lamented a despondent George Ishaq, a founder of the leftwing Kifaya Party.

“The Brotherhood are despotic and fanatical and Shafiq is the choice of Mubarak. It is a very bad result. The revolution is not part of this contest.”

Analysts predict a bare-knuckle race over the next three weeks with the Brotherhood mobilising its well-oiled machine to get the vote out for Morsi while the army and police are likely to support Shafiq – despite their official neutrality. On Friday the Brotherhood quickly launched an attack on Shafiq as a “fuloul” (remnant) of the old regime who was “climbing to power over the corpses of the martyrs of the revolution”.

Shafiq told his supporters: “To the generous people of Egypt, justice is the rule of law.”

Hisham Kassem, a publisher who had backed Moussa, said: “It’s a disaster. Shafiq will try to restore the Mubarak regime. And my trust of the Brotherhood is minus zero.”

Other liberals retreated into black humour. “All it takes now is for Mubarak to be released and be made vice president,” one tweeted. “This is not the second republic,” said another, “it’s a stillborn deformity”.

Zeinobia, a prominent blogger, compared the outcome to the humiliating defeat of Egypt and the other Arab states by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. In an already tense atmosphere, there could well be serious unrest if, as some predict, Mubarak is acquitted on charges of corruption and illegal killings next month.

Assessments are divided over the likely final outcome on 16 and 17 June. Egypt’s Coptic Christians will rally round Shafiq because of their visceral dislike of Islamists. Supporters of Moussa will do the same. Morsi can expect to get the votes of some who backed Hamdeen Sabbahi, the independent Nasserist candidate. But not all: “How many showers do you need to wash away a vote for the Brotherhood?” asked one progressive who refuses to back Shafiq at any price. Read more in The Guardian

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Written by Theophyle

May 26, 2012 at 8:49 am

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