Topic Debate: Egypt’s Presidential Elections
Background: In late May Egyptians went to the polls to vote in first fair and free presidential elections in the country’s long history. The candidates included: former Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa, former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the backup candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party initial leader Mohammed Morsi, the last prime minister before President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster Ahmed Shafiq, and Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahi. As no one candidate secured a majority of the votes, there is a scheduled runoff between the leading candidates, Morsi and Shafiq for mid-June when Egyptians will effectively choose between the Muslim Brotherhood and a remaining member of Mubarak’s regime. The following commentators provide an initial glimpse into some of these varying responses:
- “A Worst-Case Scenario in Egypt?” by Zach Gold, Middle East analyst for The National Interest, describes this as a lose-lose situation that will cause more political instability from either an Islamist takeover or protests against the return to a Mubarak-era government.
- On the other hand, Bassem Sabry, an Egyptian who blogs at An Arab Citizen, explains how a “Morsi-Shafiq Runoff Could be Good for Egypt.”
- Sarah Mourad of Ahram Online reports on the different perspectives from which protesters are criticizing the election results, indicating that many believe neither candidate satisfies the demands of last year’s revolution.
- Stephen A. Cook, the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, considers the potential risks posed by both candidates with regard to U.S. interests and the future of U.S.-Egypt relations.