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Published on June 16th, 2012 | by Taylor Heyman
Image © [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="567"] © Chi Hoon Kim[/caption]  

The Egyptian people are once again visiting the polls today to vote in the run-off for the Egyptian president. The clamor of moderates to run in the initial race has backfired and consequently we're left with two candidates who represent completely different paths for Egypt. Ahmed Shafiq is seen as a remnant of the old regime, and Muhammed Mursi is a candidate fielded by the Muslim Brotherhood, whom earlier in the year stated they would not field a candidate. Neither candidate received more than 25% of the vote each in the first round.

With the news yesterday that Shafiq has been cleared to run, it seems that the Egyptian people will have to make a tough choice, but one which is necessary. The result of the initial round was a surprise for many- so much so that there are now moves to boycott the vote. Is this the answer? Like it or not, these candidates survived the first round because of votes won in a newly democratic process, and that process should be carried out. Then, next election, the public will have the chance to elect a new leader.  The question is, which of the two candidates is most likely to develop the democratic process and bring another election? Muhammed Shafiq would appear an unlikely candidate. He held the same post in government for 10 years and still refuses to renounce his support of Mubarak,  claiming the reason for his downfall was that he 'trusted the wrong people'. However, he now claims that his links to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) would help to ensure a peaceful transition from military governance to democratic governance. His critics claim he would be merely a puppet of the military. In terms of policy, Shafiq has promised higher wages for teachers and judges as well as free healthcare for all. In addition, if elected he will appoint three vice-presidents- one woman, one Muslim and a Christian. It seems as though he is trying a little too hard to please everyone; a strategy which could be costly to his core support of civil servants and military personnel. Muhammed Mursi is the candidate that the Coptic christian minority in Egypt fear. His victory would mean domination of the Egyptian political scene for the Muslim Brotherhood, which is something many of the young revolutionaries of Tahrir Square are not in favour of.  However, he is an educated man with a degree in engineering from an american university who has promised to stay independent from his Muslim Brotherhood backers. In terms of policy, Mursi is focusing on removing the slums in Egypt's cities bu giving soft loans to those living in them, as well as increasing tourism and safety. His faith does show in some of his other policies. He wants an Islamic grounding in Education and economic policy, as well as stating that women could not hold the post of President but that he would be happy to appoint a woman as his Vice-President. Mursi appears to be making some concessions in policy to appeal to a wider audience. He has a good base of support in the rural areas of Egypt among the older generation of voters, but it seems the real race is in who, if anyone can woo the younger middle classes. Egyptian voters have been slow to turn out to the polls this morning; there is so much wrong in the process for them that perhaps they feel it is not worth voting. No constitution sets out the powers and restrictions on the victor of the weekend's election, and they now have no parliament to ratify any legislation.  However,  it is especially important to cast a vote today and Sunday because of yesterday's decision to dissolve the Egyptian Parliament. If the Presidential race is also cast into doubt then power will once again refer back to the Egyptian military. It is important for the Egyptian people to choose the candidate who will put the democratic process at the top of their agenda.

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No such thing as the middle of the road – Egypt’s presidential race

© Chi Hoon Kim

 

The Egyptian people are once again visiting the polls today to vote in the run-off for the Egyptian president. The clamor of moderates to run in the initial race has backfired and consequently we’re left with two candidates who represent completely different paths for Egypt. Ahmed Shafiq is seen as a remnant of the old regime, and Muhammed Mursi is a candidate fielded by the Muslim Brotherhood, whom earlier in the year stated they would not field a candidate. Neither candidate received more than 25% of the vote each in the first round.

With the news yesterday that Shafiq has been cleared to run, it seems that the Egyptian people will have to make a tough choice, but one which is necessary. The result of the initial round was a surprise for many- so much so that there are now moves to boycott the vote. Is this the answer? Like it or not, these candidates survived the first round because of votes won in a newly democratic process, and that process should be carried out. Then, next election, the public will have the chance to elect a new leader.  The question is, which of the two candidates is most likely to develop the democratic process and bring another election?

Muhammed Shafiq would appear an unlikely candidate. He held the same post in government for 10 years and still refuses to renounce his support of Mubarak,  claiming the reason for his downfall was that he ‘trusted the wrong people’. However, he now claims that his links to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) would help to ensure a peaceful transition from military governance to democratic governance. His critics claim he would be merely a puppet of the military. In terms of policy, Shafiq has promised higher wages for teachers and judges as well as free healthcare for all. In addition, if elected he will appoint three vice-presidents- one woman, one Muslim and a Christian. It seems as though he is trying a little too hard to please everyone; a strategy which could be costly to his core support of civil servants and military personnel.

Muhammed Mursi is the candidate that the Coptic christian minority in Egypt fear. His victory would mean domination of the Egyptian political scene for the Muslim Brotherhood, which is something many of the young revolutionaries of Tahrir Square are not in favour of.  However, he is an educated man with a degree in engineering from an american university who has promised to stay independent from his Muslim Brotherhood backers. In terms of policy, Mursi is focusing on removing the slums in Egypt’s cities bu giving soft loans to those living in them, as well as increasing tourism and safety. His faith does show in some of his other policies. He wants an Islamic grounding in Education and economic policy, as well as stating that women could not hold the post of President but that he would be happy to appoint a woman as his Vice-President. Mursi appears to be making some concessions in policy to appeal to a wider audience. He has a good base of support in the rural areas of Egypt among the older generation of voters, but it seems the real race is in who, if anyone can woo the younger middle classes.

Egyptian voters have been slow to turn out to the polls this morning; there is so much wrong in the process for them that perhaps they feel it is not worth voting. No constitution sets out the powers and restrictions on the victor of the weekend’s election, and they now have no parliament to ratify any legislation.  However,  it is especially important to cast a vote today and Sunday because of yesterday’s decision to dissolve the Egyptian Parliament. If the Presidential race is also cast into doubt then power will once again refer back to the Egyptian military. It is important for the Egyptian people to choose the candidate who will put the democratic process at the top of their agenda.

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