No obvious choice

Published on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Mohamed Abdel-Baky, 25 April – 1 May 2012.

Among the 13 candidates who remain in the race are Amr Moussa, Mubarak’s long serving foreign minister, moderate Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh and Karama Party leader Hamdeen Sabahi. Among the 10 candidates disqualified by the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) are Salafist preacher Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, Mubarak’s vice president Omar Suleiman and Muslim Brotherhood deputy supreme guide Khairat El-Shater.   

Political analyst and MP Amr El-Shobaki believes that the divisions that have rent the political scene over the past year have made it impossible for a candidate with a revolutionary platform to win Egypt’s highest office.

Nothing could be further than the tumultuous scenes that greeted the announcement that Mubarak was stepping down: then, says El-Shobaki, Egyptians were craving a president filled with fervour for change.

While El-Shobaki holds out hope for either Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh or Hamdeen Sabahi — they have both “revolutionary spirit and honesty” he says, other commentators say the list of presidential candidates is nothing short of a betrayal of the ideals espoused by the young activists that started the revolution.

“There isn’t a single candidate in the list either qualified or deserving to be considered revolutionary, it is a farce,” says writer Mona El-Tahawi … //

… Psychologist Ahmed Okasha argues that the excessive expectations that came in the wake of Mubarak’s overthrow made the souring of the revolutionary mood inevitable.

Things would have been different if presidential elections had been held in two months that followed Mubarak’s fall. Then, says Okasha, a revolutionary candidate could have easily swept the board. He warns, however, that as strong as the current feeling is in support of a moderate candidate, it could easily change.

It is a warning that Nasser Amin, head of the Arab Centre for independent law and judiciary, echoes. The absence of a clear roadmap for the transitional period, says Amin, has served to muddy the electoral waters, leaving the public confused. But should the incoming president fail to take the kind of radical policy decisions needed to improve the situation, Egypt could well find itself facing a second wave of revolutionary unrest. (full text).

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