The Idiot’s Guide to Egypt’s Election
If you’re waking up this morning and trying to catch up on the results of the Egyptian presidential election, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Preliminary vote counts first suggested that the country was heading to a run-off between Hosni Mubarak’s former prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, and Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi. That’s the ultimate “out with the new, in with the old” scenario — a reprise of the same battle that has been going on in Egyptian politics for generations, and the recipe for a serious moral dilemma among Egypt’s self-styled revolutionaries.
But there’s a twist to this story. Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi is vying to replace Ahmed Shafiq in second place, according to the state-owned newspaper Ahram Online’s preliminary results. Sabbahi gained steam in recent days as the only candidate who could credibly claim to represent leftist, non-Islamist voters while not being connected to the former regime. Islamist candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, who has won the support of many pro-revolution voters, is playing the role of spoiler — if a majority of his votes had gone to Sabbahi, he would have likely been able to edge out Shafiq.
Even though much about Egypt’s election remains unsettled, there are a few lessons we can take away from the preliminary results.