The Big Pharaoh
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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Things To Look For

A poll done by a government owned pollster found that 80% of Egyptians will vote in Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections. I am not sure whether this percentage is hyped or not but it seems that more people will vote in these elections than the previous shame ones. Despite the skepticism, there is a sense here that something is happening, that the pyramids are finally beginning to move a little bit.

Skepticism is an integral part of Egyptian society. Our governments have been lying to us for such a very long time and nobody believes what they say. Some people believe that the elections will be forged. Others say that Mubarak took this step as away of “legitimizing” the enthronement of his son Gamal (whom I like). A colleague of mine told me that he will “definitely vote even if the elections were forged”. An office boy told that me that he won’t vote because he doesn’t want to stand in the very long queue to get the registration cards. He also believes that Egypt has no hope of changing no matter what. See, he is a university graduate who was forced to work as an office boy because he couldn’t find any other job.

The picture is still foggy and the mechanism of the elections is unknown until today. We should look at the following:

- Will international observers be allowed to monitor the elections
- The turnout. I expect the government to mobilize the millions of state employees to vote for President Mubarak.
- Will independents be allowed to run or only the legalized parties. Here, all opposition parties were “allowed” by the government to operate.
- Will Mubarak’s opponents enjoy access to the state owned media
- The role of the government controlled parliament in the elections. If the parliament must “approve” each candidate, then it’s clear that Mubarak wants to handpick his opponents.
- Mubarak will definitely win. He is popular enough and he has all the assets for a mega campaign. However, what percentage of the vote will he get?

I will keep you updated with developments. For the time being, I really wish that we won’t repeat the latest Tunisian elections where President Bin Ali handpicked his opponents and won by 96% instead of 99%! Egypt is bigger and more strategically important than Tunisia.


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