The Big Pharaoh
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Elections Blues

Today the presidential campaigns will kick off. I am not sure how the campaigns will look like since this is the first time in Egypt’s republic history to have a multiple candidates election. I do expect a lot of banners in the street and most of them will be by businessmen, members of parliament, etc supporting president Mubarak.

Below are a few notes about the elections:

The candidates:

As you all know, the election law that was passed literally bars any independents from running. All candidates must belong to one of the existing parties. Most of the parties, who were originally allowed to operate by the government controlled parties committee, are very weak and baseless. Very few of them can claim they have a real support base.

There are 10 candidates who will run on September 7th, president Mubarak is among them. The most notable candidates running against Mubarak are Ayman Noor from Al Ghad party and Noman Gomaa from El Wafd party.

The campaigns:

The government controlled media will allow the 9 candidates to have 189 hours of space. However, no candidate is allowed to attack the other! That means that those opposing Mubarak can not air ads that attack his record over the past 24 years! I expect that there will be a lot of fuss especially from the Ayman Noor camp when the television officials censor their anti-Mubarak ads.

Reaction from the people:

Zero, zut, nill. I personally know of only ONE person who will vote. See, only those who are registered will be allowed to vote and the registration period ended before president Mubarak announced his decision to allow for multiple candidates elections! Just like the vast majority of Egyptians, I don’t have an elections registration card and so unfortunately I won’t be able to post my phosphoric finger on the blog. Yea, irremovable phosphoric ink will be used to mark the fingers of those who voted. Iraqis used purple ink, we’ll be using phosphoric ink!

In addition, political apathy in Egypt is so huge. Everybody knows who the winner will turn out to be and so nobody cares. I seldom hear people talking about the elections on the street. I am hoping that with the campaign ads and so forth the “political waters” of Egypt will move a little bit.

Who will win?

Definitely Mubarak. I have mentioned before that I do want Mubarak to have a fifth term. I hope that as a result of the new stuff we’re seeing, the political life of Egypt will get some oxygen and we will witness the rise of non-Islamist parties or politicians who will be able to run in the presidential election in 2011. The world and especially the US should continue pressuring Mubarak in order to liberalize the political atmosphere in order for this to happen.

These elections, despite all the drawbacks, are a step forward in ending the disastrous status quo that has crippled our political life and allowed mosquitoes and germs to accumulate in our “political waters.”


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