Français   |  

Subscribe to the whole site

Home > English > Alternatives International Journal > 2012 > June 2012 > Egyptian Presidential Candidate Sparks Protests

Egyptian Presidential Candidate Sparks Protests

Friday 1 June 2012, by Michael D’Alimonte

Following news that Hosni Mubarak’s former premier, Ahmed Shafiq, will face off against Muslim Brotherhood backed Mohammed Mursi in the country’s presidential runoff later this June, thousands of protestors have gathered again in Tahrir Square, chanting “where is the revolution?”

Shafik’s campaign headquarters have been ransacked and set ablaze.

Although a recent law prohibited any candidate who worked under Mubarak to partake in the election, Shafiq directly appealed to the Higher Presidential Election Commission and was made a candidate. Many complaints were made against Shafiq, such as disregarding the electoral silence imposed on all candidates 48 hours before voting occurred, but the Election Commission has remained complacent to Shafiq’s actions.

Mursi is the head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, and was the second candidate backed by the Brotherhood – despite their previous promise not to include any members in the presidential election. Given that the Brotherhood currently controls parliament, Egyptians are concerned with having a president in the same party.

Since those under thirty were the catalyst to the revolution, and comprise a significant portion of the electorate, the young will play a key role in the election. But which candidate will they choose? Apprehension exists towards Shafiq for his ties to Mubarak, but Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood are not excluded from criticism.

Rachad Antonius, a sociology professor at UQAM, claims that the Brotherhood “just cashed in on the movement done by the young people, and as a result some young people even boycotted the presidential election.” With negative sentiments linked to both candidates, it is unclear how Egyptian youths will go on to vote in June.

But to divide the conflict into groups of young or old and revolutionaries or old regime would be to simplify the array of political ideologies that exist in Egypt. As Egyptian lawyer Hazem Mehrez points out, “it is wider than this, if we look within the revolution it is divided in itself.”

For the first time, Egypt has televised news broadcasts and debates as well as online resources that are accessible to voters. Antonius praised the positive influence of the media in the ongoing election process for two main reasons. First, with online media representing all of Egypt’s political parties, it is possible for voters to be fully informed. This access to information also forces the main media sources to be more objective. “The [main media] can no longer just ignore things people are talking about,” Antonius claims.

News and political information in Egypt is now more accessible and accurate than ever before.

With political conversation at a newfound height, Egyptian citizens are able to make an informed vote and discover each candidate’s platform on the major issue of Egypt’s economic stability. Egypt’s economy is one of the largest issues to resolve as it has been declining for years. This is a problem affecting nearly all citizens and one that Antonius and Mehrez believe must be addressed immediately. As to who would be the more qualified candidate regarding this issue, Antonius believes that “none of them are qualified. This is an issue with many factors, it’s a matter of whether people are convinced processes are going on correctly so that people try to get into a `normality’ from the point of view of economics…A lot of things are going to go wrong because a lot of issues have not been settled as part of the revolutionary process. I don’t think that anyone can guarantee a return to economic stability.”

Mehrez was much more optimistic on the topic. He believes that “once [Egypt] has a president working with parliament it will resolve a large part of the problem. I don’t think it will be resolved in a few months but we have to start and the first thing to do is to bring security and stability back.” The security of the Egyptian people and their sense of safety is yet another major issue facing the nation.

The contrasting sentiments of these individuals reflect the various perspectives concerning the presidential election. Many different ideologies exist but the core issues facing Egypt – its security, economic stability, and governance itself – apply to all citizens. Mursi and Shafiq will have to address these problems and demonstrate their competency to an eclectic mix of voters if they hope to win the runoff vote to be held June 16 and 17.