Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Egypt's presidential election: a game of the least bad option

Egyptians are being asked not to choose the future but to choose between various versions of an imagined glorious past

Magdi Abdelhadi, Wednesday 23 May 2012

"Egypt oscillates between euphoria and resignation. The prospect of electing the country's first-ever president in a multi-candidate race is exhilarating. But when you look at what is on offer, many feel despondent.

Never before in the country's history were the people allowed to choose their head of state without the result being known in advance. Egyptians are talking all the time about it, arguing with one another – families are split over who to vote for.

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

Not 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......

Don't hold your breath, a leading Egyptian columnist warned recently, it could even get bumpier after 1 July – the date the new president is supposed to take over. None of the underlying tensions (military versus civilian and religious versus secular) have been resolved and are not likely to be any time soon."

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