Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, and Ahmed Shafiq, a former Mubarak Prime Minister, lead the polls. This seems the worse-case scenario, where Egyptians can only choose between an uncharismatic leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and a hangover from the old regime.
“It feels as if the revolution never took place,” said George Ishaq, a long-term opponent to Mubarak and founder of the leftwing Kifaya Party.
Many think that these two candidates have been pushed to the front thanks to the main organised forces in the Egyptian society, the Brotherhood and the army.
But that the Brotherhood is in such a position that they can actually pretend to rule the country, even if this does not answer the hopes of the revolution, show that the revolution happened and that the democratic game is free.
Shafiq is really a hangover of the former regime, he does not hide it. He defended comments he made in 2010 praising Mubarak as a role model and father figure. But he has a reputation as an efficient technocrat and he is popular with businessmen.
On may wonder if Mubarak’s former party members are still that strong. “Does Shafiq’s apparently strong showing in Sharqiya and other rural provinces mean a revival of the old NDP patronage net?” asks Issandr El Amrani, an Egyptian politics analyst.
Shafiq is also trusted by some of the members of the Coptic Christian minority, who like his Mubarak-inspired tough line on Islamists. However, Shafiq told Egyptian television on Friday he is prepared to appoint an Islamist vice-president.
He had to resign after being Prime Minister for just a month, during and shortly after the uprising in 2011, after an argument on a TV show. The novelist Ala’a al-Aswany attacked him as a Mubarak loyalist. The writer decided to pursue his campaign against Shafiq, as he wrote on Twitter on Saturday “I call on Shafiq for an open debate to confront him with charges of corruption.” But so far claims of personal corruption have never been substantiated.
Morsi’s campaign said in a wonderfully seemingly pro-revolution press statement :”The masses of our people and the enlightened revolutionary forces will not give these the opportunity; and just as they were able to topple Mubarak, they are now quite capable of removing the remnants of his regime together with its crumbling symbols.”
Or maybe they will vote for Shafiq if what they fear most is a one-part system, which a Brotherhood-led Egypt would almost be.