So much has been written on the Egyptian presidential elections already that it is a bit overwhelming to weigh in on them now. So let me be clear – this post is intended only to introduce some of our illustrious presidential candidates, the reasons why it never mattered who prevailed, and the awesome post-election battlefield that is Egypt. Oh, and Mubarak’s rumoured demise.
I’ve mostly been tweeting stream-of-thought (in epically inappropriate language) about the elections, but I would like to emphasize one of my comments during the first round of the elections: “if you voted for Shafiq, please never speak to me again. Agreed?” Who is Shafiq? you might be asking. Well, here is a bare-bones breakdown of a few of our mediocre presidential candidates:
Ahmed Shafiq: Military man, former PM under Mubarak. Purported loser of the second election rounds, though his camp alleges otherwise.
Mohammed Morsi: “Brother Muslimhood” AKA Freedom and Justice Party AKA Ikhwan candidate. Likely winner of the second round, but who knows anymore.
Hamdeen Sabbahi: Nasserist candidate for the Dignity Party.
Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh: Formerly Muslim Brotherhood, secretary-general of the Arab Medical Union, and still pretty into Islamist politics. The Salafi party endorsed Fotouh, but he’s actually kind of a righteous dude when you get right down to it.
Amr Moussa: Stank-faced professional politician, wearer of conservative ties and muted suits. I honestly paid no attention to him during the elections, he’s only here to round out the bunch.
There are more but you can go here to read about the other guys.
Most of you know this part of the story: the first election round came down to Shafiq and Morsi, both camps continue to battle it out despite the (still unannounced) second round of votes, Egyptians are still all over the streets in protest, the Supreme Constitutional Court invalidated Egypt’s elected parliament at the behest of SCAF, our military council, which is still running the country as an autonomous body. And they will continue doing so, for as long as they are able to hold power (which is probably going to be a long while). “Down with the next president,” indeed.
A closer look at SCAF’s continued hold on power is especially frightening, but not quite as surprising as Western media has made it out to be. According to GWU professor Nathan Brown, the ‘supplementary constitutional declaration’ issued by SCAF “really [does] constitutionalize a military coup” by more firmly establishing their long history of controlling the Egyptian government. I’d recommend reading Brown’s “hastily jotted down” observations here.
While everyone in the West seems really shocked by the turn Egypt’s first post-Mubarak elections have taken (the Carter Center, which monitored the elections, stated “grave concern about the broader political and constitutional context, which calls into question the meaning and purpose of the elections”), I’d like to summarize the attitudes of the Egyptians who have been paying attention since 1952: “Duh.”
We knew SCAF wouldn’t “hand over power,” and it’s quite telling that they control enough of our country that we even phrase it as “handing over power.” So SCAF has apparently decided that the parliament goes, and whoever ends up as the incoming president will only be a “transitional” figurehead until they can draft a new constitution. C’est la vie. “Ya3nni.” We’re used to this. No big deal.
So what I really want to talk about now is Hosni Mubarak. Hosni Mubarak, convicted of ‘allowing’ for protesters to be killed during the beginning of the uprising (a conviction which many have argued allows for an appeal), had to go and fake die right in the middle of all this mess. Diva. Attempt to distract Egyptians from SCAF and get them off the streets and into their homes. Etc.
The first round of news I heard of this forwarded that Mubarak was “clinically dead” according to “some officials,” shared by both Egyptians and non-Egyptian news sources. I then noted, with great amusement, the immediate “I’ll believe it when I see it!” response from many an Egyptian on my Twitter feed. Now, just as I believe that Twitter was not what made our revolution, I fully admit that my own paltry Twitter feed is not representative of a significant number of any population. But the instantaneous skepticism regarding Mubarak’s purported death, even as just as many people were sharing the unsubstantiated news, proves my faith in the Egyptian people is well-placed.
Mubarak is not dead. Nor is the humour and immense devotion to our revolutionary society that Egyptians who are not featured on your nightly news shows possess. I suppose we are in “turmoil” and that “tensions are high,” but when in the past year – and I’d argue, in the past 30+ years – has this not been the case? And yet, we manage to keep going. And keep fighting. And keep laughing.
All that said, it appears Egypt is still much closer to becoming a “real democracy” than CNN & co. would have you think – we all went out to vote on a choice of crappy candidates and an absurd judicial intervention rendered everything irrelevant.