Insight Turkey, Volume 14 No. 3
Egypt is the central country of the Arab world. The political and cultural influence that Egypt has exercised on its Arab neighborhood in modern times has been immense. Although the current movement of Arab revolutions broke out first in Tunisia, it was the Egyptian revolution which captured the world’s imagination and gave “the Arab spring” its name. But Egypt’s transition to democracy has been slow and tortuous, complicated by a conflict over the country’s soul between the forces of change and the military-judiciary bureaucracy complex. The election of a new president, the first to be chosen in a relatively free election since the founding of the republic, is no doubt a major step forward in the process of democratization.
The second and final round of the election was conducted on June 16 and 17 between the two front runners in the first round: Dr. Muhammad Mursi of the Freedom and Justice Party (the political arm of the Muslim Brothers), and former Air Force general Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister of the deposed Mubarak’s regime. At dawn on Monday, June 18, Mursi’s campaign headquarters announced his victory, relying on results from local voting centers.
However, Shafiq’s spokespersons refused to admit defeat. Although official results were not declared until June 24, they were to confirm the results that had been announced previously, showing that Mursi was able to beat his rival by 880,000 votes.
More than 50 percent of eligible voters (about 26 out of 51 million) voted in the second round, far exceeding the 40 percent in the first round. While the considerable rise in the turn out indicates that Egyptians had yet to show signs of electoral exhaustion, it also shows the intensity of the competition.
Yet even before the president was to assume his responsibilities, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had taken several measures to insure they keep their heavy-handed role in shaping the country’s future, diminishing Egyptians’ hopes that the presidential elections would finally conclude the long process of transforming authority.
[ Read Full Text ]