Five things to watch on the Egyptian elections

We are just five days away from the first presidential elections in Egypt after the revolution that dethroned the last pharaoh, Hosni Mubarak. Here are five aspects we should pay attention to in this first round:

1-The winners: It may seem obvious, but it is not. In other recent presidential elections, like in France, it was pretty much known beforehand which candidates would face off in the second round. Not in Egypt. Polls are unreliable and voters’ mood very fluid. So there are up to five candidates with some options to pass to the second round: Moussa, Shafik, Abulfoutouh, Morsi and Sabahi.

2.-The Muslim Brothers’ result: After sweeping in the parlamentary elections, the powerful islamist movement faces un uphill battle in the presidential elections. Its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, little known and without charisma, trailed badly in polls just two weeks ago. Moreover, important salafi organizations threw their weight behind the other islamist candidate, Abdel Moneim Abulfoutouh. Therefore, Morsi’s result will show the real capacity of mobilization of the Brotherhood. And probably, also, what is its “electoral floor”, just five months after knowing its “electoral ceiling”.

3.-The Islamist vote: Adding up its several wings (moderate, mainstream and ultraconservative), political Islam achieved 70% of the votes in the parliamentary elections. A resounding victory. However, it is not clear how many of those voters were ideological. Under a tougher competition with secular figures, the results of the islamist candidates will indicate what is the real islamist constituency in Egypt.

4.-The turnout: Are the Egyptians really excited with the elections? Do they agree with the “historical” nature of the events the country is experiencing? The turnout will reflect that. Democracy is all about inclusion and legitimacy, so the political process can not be considered a success with a low rate of participation.

5.-The day after: Several important actors have cast a doubt on the fairness of the elections. For example, Morsi, the candidate of the Brotherhood, stated that the victory of any figure connected with the Mubarak regime would prove that the elections were rigged. Will the losers accept the result? In essence, that is the key element in a process of transition to democracy.

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