The first-round results, mixed feelings

The results are now confirmed : in the run-off, Egyptians will have to choose between the Muslim Brother candidate Morsi and the former Mubarak-regime Shafiq.

For many, this is a really depressing choice. Mubarak against the Muslim Brothers, that’s what politics before the Revolution looked like.
Have Egyptian so soon lost faith in the Revolution and in a possible real democratic life?
Let’s not state the obvious and say that anyway this was not a regime change but just the toppling of a leader. Who won? A man from the establishment and a man from the most organised Mubarak-era opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood. Either someone who will not change anything or someone who will bring more social conservatism to Egypt, and very possibly also a one-party politics. Why were they chosen? Likely because, as they represent systems that are already known, they are seen as more likely to provide stability than more refreshing candidates. And in such a period, with the economy worsening, with the police still being mainly absent, as it resents the attacks it suffered as a symbol of teh Mubarak regime, many people crave the stability that the one from the former regime or the one from the organisation who provides charity social care promise. Also, many say that the Copts (an estimated 10 per cent of the population) might have voted for Shafiq so as to avoid an Islamist candidate – but they seem to have voted for Sabahi as well. And on the other hand, the craving for corruption-free politics probably led many people in Egypt, as in other countries, to think the Muslim Brothers and their faith-based morals are a worthy option. And, actually, the Brotherhood would never have been able to secure so many votes had there been no revolution.
The low turn-out also hints at a possible despair at any possibility of quick political change: there was only little more than a 46.42 per cent turnout.

However, it has to be noticed that actually most of the voters did not vote for these two candidates. None of the presidential candidates in Egypt got more than 11 percent of registered voters or a quarter of those who voted in first round. Morsi got 25 per cent of the votes, Shafiq 24 per cent. So 51 per cent of the voters voted for someone else than these two people.
Moreover, the third candidate, the leftist Nasserist Sabahi, is actually very close to the first two ones. He got 21 per cent of the votes. Between him and Shafiq, 700 000 votes only. And he won in the two biggest cities, Cairo and Alexandria.
It is not a sweeping victory for either of the first two candidates. The establishment is receding, and so is the new establishment, the Muslim Brotherhood: their performance is nowhere as good as it was only a few months ago at the parliamentary elections (where the turn-out was also a lot better) : optimistic Hani Shukrallah, editor in chief of Ahram online, says on twitter : “It’s not a new dawn of the MB we are witnessing, nor a revival of the police state a la Mubarak, but the twilight of both.”

Indeed, the “liberal” Islamist who left the Brotherhood and who also appealed to many pro-revolution voters whom a Muslim discourse did not scare off, Aboul Fotouh, got almost 18 per cent. The fifth one is a former Mubarak Foreign Affairs Minister, but also the former Arab League head, and he is a liberal who claimed not to be that connected to Mubarak: he got a little more than 11 per cent of the votes.
Finally, an Islamist, Mohammed Selim El-Awwa, got approximately one per cent of the votes. The human rights activist and lawyer Khaled Ali comes seventh and got less than one per cent of the votes.
Hisham Al-Bastawisi got less than 0.15 per cent.

Some people hoped that Morsi would withdraw in favour of a pro-Revolution candidate. It was very unlikely, given that the FJP (Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood) also presents itself as a guard of the revolution.

The Electoral Committee said that 500 000 votes had been nullified and that there had been voting irregularities, but that the irregularities as a whole did not affect the results of the election. Some people argue that if the invalid votes are more than what any of the candidates received, the validity of the elections should be reconsidered.
Appeals were not considered because they were made after the first results and not during the elections themselves.


Revolutionary youth face tough choices

The revolutionary youth support different candidates.

The Revolution Youth Coalition said on Monday they support Hamdeen Sabahi. They say they respect all the other candidates who support the ideas of the revolution, like Khaled Ali, Hisham Al-Bastawisi and Abul-Ezz El-Hariry.

Famous pro-revolution figures also announced their support to Sabahi, like political activist Israa Abdel Fattah, George Ishaq (Kefaya), author Alaa Al Aswany and journalits Hamdi Qandil.

But the Revolution Youth Union still hasn’t decided between him and Aboul Fotouh.

Masrena, a movement launched in January and co-founded by Wael Ghoneim, the founder of We are all Khaled Said facebook page, the page against torture that called to a revolution in January 2011, supports Aboul Fotouh.

Khaled Ali

“Bread, freedom and social justice” – “the social justice is the first way to build a modern and strong country”

Khaled Ali is a prominent left-wing human rights activist and labour lawyer.
The 40 year old is the youngest candidate.

Many pro-revolution voters would like to vote for him but will not because they know he is mainly unknown to rural Egypt and therefore his chances are very slim.

In 1999, along with Ahmed Seif El-Islam, he founded the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre (HMLC), a law firm that has since become a major player in the country’s human rights scene.
In 2001, Ali helped launch the Coordinating Committee, a grassroots labor organization that advocates workers’ rights and has worked on eliminating violations in state-run trade union elections in 2001 and 2006.
Ali was also a founding member of the Front for Defending Egypt’s Protesters in 2008, providing legal support for Egypt’s labor movement in the industrial city of Mahalla after the April 6 strike.
In 2009, Ali founded the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) and served as the director of this prominent human and labor rights advocacy group until February 2012, when he announced his intention to run for presidency. In 2010, he won a highly publicized case directing a 1,200 Egyptian pound minimum monthly wage for Egypt’s public sector employees.

He has made the eradication of poverty his main goal. He told Reuters that he wants to revive the public sector, which he believes has untapped potential. He also says he wants a competitive playing field for the private sector, departing from Mubarak-era crony capitalism. He eschews traditional left or right political labels.

He blames an unproductive economy that is too heavily reliant on tourism and remittances from Egyptians living abroad for not shielding the poor during a year of unrest.
Ali is also pro western and has suggested that he will seek to strengthen ties with Europe and the United States and work with Israel to resolve the Middle East peace process.

Here is an interview, translated into English. He says “the worst thing is the smear campaign that made the people believe that the revolutionaries are against the society.”
In March, he filed a lawsuit against the parliament, challenging the constitutionality of the mainly Islamist assembly tasked with drafting the new constitution. He participated in protests in front of this assembly’s meeting place.

Egypt Today says he is married to Naglaa Hashem, a fellow human rights activist who works for the Cairo-based Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims.