As the first post-revolution presidential elections in Egypt draw closer, speculations are rife about who among the candidates is most likely to win. However, Egyptian political analyst Moustafa Kamel al-Sayed has argued that the entire political scene is blurred in a way that makes it very hard to guess who the next president might be.
“Political analysts who speculate about the results of the elections are always making Western elections their point of reference, but these are not similar to their Egyptian counterpart,” he told Al Arabiya.
Sayed, who is also a professor of political science at Cairo University, argued that many analysts overlook the fact that Egypt has never really been through presidential elections and that is why it cannot be compared to countries with long-established democracies.
“In addition, Egypt has been through several systems of governance from Islamic rule to the revolution of the Free Officers that brought Mohamed Naguib, followed by Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat, and Hosni Mubarak.”
The only presidential election, Sayed added, was the one that took place towards the end of Mubarak’s rule and which he described as “farcical.”
“At the time, other candidates ran for president only because they wanted to get the election fund offered by the government and which amounted to half a million Egyptian Pounds.”
The only exception, Sayed explained, was opposition figure and founder of the Ghad Party Ayman Nour who was later charged with forgery and sentenced to jail in retaliation.
In addition to Egypt’s lack of experience as far as elections are concerned, Sayed noted that it is also very hard to predict the reaction of the Egyptian people.
“Egyptians are emotional by nature and that is why they are not expected to vote for a candidate based on political background and economic plans, but rather in accordance with other promises.”
Sayed suggested that election campaigns be monitored so that tapes of the promises candidates make to the people can be later used against them when they prove empty.
“Those promises should be like a charter signed by the winning president and which will be used to evaluate his/her performance. If these promises are not met, the parliament should hand the president a no-confidence vote.”
This, he stated, does not happen in Egypt where presidential candidates are free to roam the country without any monitoring on the part of the government and therefore no responsibility on the part of the candidate.
Sayed added that each of the current potential presidential candidates is trying to forge allegiances that would, from their own point of view, guarantee his ascension to power.
“Former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa is trying to bring the youths to his side through playing on the fact that he went to Tahrir during the revolution.”
However, Sayed said, revolutionary youths consider Moussa, who served as foreign minister during Mubarak’s rule, part of the old regime.
“That is why he started communicating with users of social networking websites where he uploaded videos of fiery confrontations between him and senior Israeli officials and this has already gained him a lot of support.”
Moussa, Sayed pointed out, also garnered a lot of support from the birthplace of his parents in the Delta governorates in al-Gharbiya and al-Qalyoubia.
Sayed argued that Former Minister of Civil Aviation and Mubarak’s last Prime Minister Lieutenant Ahmed Shafik has been gaining sympathy through reminding people of the time he was harshly criticized by novelist and prominent opposition figure Alaa al-Aswany in a TV show.
As for Islamist candidates, Sayed noted that former Muslim Brotherhood member
Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh has a better chance than the Salafi Hazem Salah Abu Ismail.
“Abul Fotouh’s campaign is much more organized and he enjoys some sort of hidden support from the Brotherhood, but Abu Ismail is not supported by all Salafi movements.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)