The result of the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections has left many people unhappy, or even heartbroken, especially the revolutionaries. I agree that this is the worst possible result for the Egyptian society, since both Morsi and Shafiq are the most radical and polarizing candidates of the presidentical field. In fact, many voted for one of them as an expression of hatred and fear towards the other.
From my point of view, this awful result is the logical conclusion of the many mistakes committed by all the main political actors in the wake of the Revolution. Their main sin has been their inability to seek and reach consensus, to compromise, for the sake of the Egypt. Instead, they have only looked only for their narrow interests, unable to overcome the feelings of distrust among them. And this is a fatal blunder in a transitional period, whose success depends on the capacity to find a set of common rules for the new era.
Here there are their mistakes of each one:
-The revolutionaries: some of them overplayed the strength of their revolutionary legitimacy. As I explained in a previous post, they ignored the will of a large part of the Egyptian society, which was tired of clashes and demanded some patience before launching a new revolutionary wave. Precisely, it is this sector that voted for Shafiq in the first round. It may seem a paradox, but revolutionaries helped him to pass to the run-off. And the recent ransack and looting of Shafiq’s headquarters shows that some still have not learnt any lesson from the results of the first round.
-The Muslim Brothers: During the years before the Revolution, and immediately after, the Brotherhood acted wisely, with a lot of caution. However, in the last months, they have added a mistake after another. Following their overwhelming victory in the parliamentary elections, their caution turned into arrogance, while it became too obvious that their main (and only?) concern was to maximize their power. The list of their mistakes includes to side with SCAF in the November clashes, to break their promise not to participate in the presidential elections, and their monopoly of the Constitutional Assembly. As I argued in a previous post, all this will make their power to shrink.
-The anti-revolutionaries: Those who voted for Shafiq made a big mistake. His presidency will not bring stability, but rather the opposite. His voters define him as a “strongman” because of this military background, and they hope that he would stop the excesses of the revolutionaries. However, the effect would be exactly the opposite, it would extend the period of unrest. The revolutionaries have proved to be very brave, and every person who is killed or tortured brings a dozen more to Tahrir square. Meaningful negotiations and not violence is the solution.
-The anti-Islamists: Most of them also voted for Shafiq, and they talso committed a blunder. Cracking down on Islamists will not make them disappear, or turn them more moderate, but rather the contrary. As in previous chapters of Egyptian history, political Islam may splinter, and new militant groups be created. Negotiation and compromise is the best strategy to make sure that Political Islam remains peaceful. Moreover, Shafiq is the only candidate that the Brotherhood can probably beat in a run-off. If anti-Islamists were smarter, they would have chosen secular figures like Moussa or Sabahi, who would have had many more chances to defeat Morsi, the islamist candidate.
-The SCAF (Military Junta): Right now, it seem the most cunning actor who outmaneuvered all the rest. The generals have kept power in a turbulent period, deflecting revolutionary passion; they have managed to make people blame the Parliament –and thus the Islamist that control it- for the lack of improvement of their lives; and their favourite candidate defied the odds and he is in the run-off. Nonetheless, it has come with a price: all polls show that the popularity of the army leadership has seriously eroded among the middle classes, and sooner or later this will affect them negatively in the power struggle that takes place in Egypt.
All this said, there is still time to redress the situation, but all sides must learn about their mistakes, and change their attitude. I want to be hopeful about the future of Egypt, since there we have also experienced positive trends in the last months (the barrier of fear has broken, and the longing for democracy seems strong). In sha Alla, after some tweaks and turns, Egypt will find its way towards a more representative form of government that will give some rest to his anguished soul.