.Why are people in Egypt, or at least, some of them, shocked by the victory of Gen. Ahmed Shafiq in the first round of the presidential elections? Moreover, these people might be in a greater shock if Shafiq is chosen president of Egypt in the re-run of the elections in two weeks.
People are shocked because to them, Shafiq’s victory is like President Hosni Mubarak coming back to power, or one of Qaddafi’s sons taking the reins in Libya, or the Syrian freedom fighters accepting the selection of Mahir al-Assad to replace his brother Bashar.
Shafiq’s victory in the first round of the presidential elections was a painful defeat to the revolutionists, but not necessarily to the revolution itself. Was his victory a clear message from a large segment of the Egyptian people that they would not accept the new faces? Or was it a result of the supporters of the old regime coming together in his support to win the battle?
Old faces resurfacing in the political arena is not an uncommon phenomenon. After the correctional revolutions in East Europe and Russia, the old faces came again to power. It was true that communism had been defeated, but some communists were able to survive.
Putin is a face from the new generation of the old Soviet system. He came out of the umbrella of the KGB. His predecessor, Yeltsin, who chaired the first Russian government, had been a member of the communist party for more than 30 years.
Shafiq’s victory would definitely not reproduce Mubarak’s regime, but he will be a weak president in front of the youth. He will be keen to please them and will always be afraid of their protests. If the Muslim Brotherhood wins, they would dominate all powers: Presidency, the government and the two houses of Parliament.
Conspiracies hatched by the old regime or the Muslim Brotherhood’s control over power are not the real enemies of the youth — who triggered revolution in Egypt. Their biggest enemy is their own ignorance about the ABC of politics. This is precisely the reason why they lost massive public support they had enjoyed following the quick and stunning downfall of Mubarak.
Realistically, what we see in Egypt today does not surprise anyone. Two of the five heavyweight presidential candidates have won. Despite the overwhelming media campaign, about half of the eligible Egyptian voters did not go to the polls, as they did during the parliamentary elections.
If the presidential elections were held quickly after the revolution, latest by September 2011, their results might have been in favor of the youth. Ironically, this was the date proposed by Mubarak within the arrangements for his stepping down. The idea to hold the presidential elections early was a reasonable suggestion to those who know the mechanisms of the political work in a big country like Egypt.
The youth came up with a number of demands, but neither early presidential nor parliamentary elections were among them.
The youth should have known then that leaving the post of the president vacant was the main cause for the disturbances that took place after the revolution. The void caused by the absence of a president gave the military council the pretext to continue ruling the country and enabled the caretaker government of El-Ganzouri to remain in place. This void also caused a number of crises, from the issue of the Israeli Embassy to the bloody incidents in Port Said and Al-Abbasiyah district in Cairo. The long lull that followed the revolution caused the majority of the people to lose interest, so they voted for the candidates who were not favored by the youth.
Mohamed ElBaradei, who was trusted by the youth for some time, faced the political battle from the beginning by calling for presidential elections, but failed because nobody was able to understand his logic. He did not actually call for presidential elections, but proposed the formation of a presidential council to be composed of the main political powers including the youth to rule the county for two years. The Brotherhood insisted on early parliamentary elections, because through their long experience they were well aware that they were the most qualified to win them. They had tens of thousands of offices and political representatives in various parts of the country, while the youth, who were the most popular, had no headquarters, offices, branches, money or political stars.
The codification of the constitution, which should be the first thing to do, as it is the basis for the entire political process, was postponed. This was in fact to the favor of the Brotherhood, who won the parliamentary elections. However, the constitution should be written by all for all and not only by those who won the parliamentary elections.
Abdul Moneim Saeed, the famous Egyptian political thinker, bluntly told the youth, who shouted at him during a political debate, that they were not able to learn from their own mistakes.
The Egyptian youth were exasperated, because their opponents had won the elections. They are now threatening to create chaos in the country. To these youth, I say:
• Refusing the results of the elections is against the concept of democracy for which they fought;
• Months of instability in Egypt have made the majority of the people bored;
• It is true that the majority of the Egyptian people were happy with the revolution and the promises it had made to them to eradicate corruption and improve their living conditions, but after 15 months their conditions further worsened;
• The people were pained by the continued conflicts among the powers that replaced the old regime. They were also terrified to see the streets of their capital city made into bloody confrontations.
The writer is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in the Saudi-based Arab News on May 28, 2012