Election choice: the least bad option

That’s how many pro-revolution people feel in Egypt. They will elect someone for a transitional period, and one who will be consensual enough. On the bright side, these are the first elections when the result is not known beforehand. It is even very hard to tall now who will be the two candidates in the run-off.

The Guardian writes: “The Islamists have three formidable candidates. People who believe that Egypt should be ruled by sharia have plenty of choice.

No so on the other side. For the others – short of a better term we will call them “the secular half” – it’s a game of the least bad option.

The fact that a candidate for the ancien regime, Field Marshal Ahmed Shafiq, was allowed to stand in itself shows that the Egyptian revolution still has a long way to go.

Amr Moussa, the septuagenarian former foreign minister and secretary-general of the Arab League, who now presents himself as pro-youth and democracy, never had the guts to challenge Mubarak publicly.”
Foreign Policy dubs him “the good felool” (the good remnant…) or the “emphatically non-Islamist candidate and a consummate establishment man in a country supposedly in revolution”.

On the other side, Islamist candidates and the biggest leftist – Nasserist – one, Sabahi, are strikingly similar in their rhetorics.
“Populists like Sabbahi wilfully forget that it was Nasser who landed Egypt in the current mess, as the founder of its peculiar brand of military dictatorship out of which the country is still struggling to emerge.

His much bigger rivals on the other side – the Islamists – are guilty of the same cardinal sin of promising to resurrect a utopian past: the virtuous city of the first four Caliphs .

Ironically, it seems that the Egyptians, having staged the first popular revolution in their history, are being asked not to choose the future but to choose between various versions of an imagined glorious past.

This is hardly surprising. Nasserism (or pan-Arab nationalism) and Islamism represent the two political discourses that have dominated Egypt – and the so-called Arab world – for the past half a century or so. And, contrary to popular perception, they have more in common than meets the eye.

If you take out God, their ideological deep structure is remarkably similar. Both cultivate an inflated sense of collective grandeur, stolen past glory, and whatever went wrong with the nation, it’s always someone else’s fault: the crusaders, the moguls, the colonial masters, the Americans, Israel, the Shias, the Persians.”


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