Muslim Brotherhood to face Egypt′s old guard | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 26.05.2012
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Muslim Brotherhood to face Egypt's old guard

The first round votes have been counted. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood candidate Morsi and former Prime Minister Shafiq face off in a run-off election. Revolutionary and liberal groups will have a tough choice to make.

"I have the choice between suicide and jumping into a tank of sharks," said 25-year-old Rana Gaber with regard to a choice between the old regime and the Islamists.

The young activist was disappointed with the outcome of the first round of the presidential election in Egypt. Ahmed Shafiq, part of the ousted Mubarak government, and Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, will now face each other in a run-off election in June. Egypt's revolutionaries were hoping to see a much different result.

"The Muslim Brotherhood sold out the revolution, and Shafiq has blood on his hands. Who are we supposed to vote for?" Gaber asked.

On Friday afternoon as the votes were counted, there were intervals where it looked like things could turn out differently. Hamdeen Sabahi, a nationalist presidential candidate who earned the support of many revolutionaries, was ahead of Shafiq at times, and Gaber could hardly contain herself.

Former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik giving a speech

Mubarak's "third son" - former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq

The military's ideal candidate: Shafiq

But in the end, the support was there for Shafiq, a man who served as Mubarak's former prime minister and whom the president once called his "third son." Many of the revolutionaries despise Shafiq. While in office, henchmen were paid to raid Tahrir Square at the beginning of the revolution, resulting in a bloodbath.

However, Shafiq has the military's support, and the army's privileges would remain secure under his rule. Shafiq is the only presidential candidate who does not think it necessary to present a new program for Egyptian society. Nonetheless, he earned 25 percent of the votes, including from Egyptian voter Ragab Madbuli.

"He will restore security, and he has experience," he said. "That is the most important thing during this transitional phase."

Decisive power for the Muslim Brotherhood?

Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi giving a speech

Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi

Muslim Brotherhood member Morsi also said he wants to restore stability. He received the most votes at 25.3 percent, according to the calculations of Egyptian news agency MENA. That is not a ringing endorsement for the Brotherhood. During parliamentary voting in January, they had convinced more than half of the voters.

But trust in the Muslim Brotherhood has fallen. The group does not seem to have the answers to the problems facing Egyptian society, but it is clear that they want to expand their power.

If Morsi were to become president, Egypt would be the first republic governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, which already controls parliament. The association is doing everything it can to gain entry into the presidential palace.

"We have to fight together," said Sayed Mustafa. "The revolutionaries against the counter-revolutionaries - the old regime."

Fear of the Islamists

That will not be easy. Many secular-minded people in Egypt fear rule by Islamists, but there are still a lot of potential votes for the candidates to fight over.

Third place went to Hamdeen Sabahi, followed by the nationalist and liberal former Muslim Brotherhood member Aboul Fotouh. Fifth place went to Amr Moussa. Many revolutionaries, liberals, secular-minded people and leftists supported Hamdeen Sabahi and Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh - who earned 40 percent of the votes in total.

Revolutionaries argue that Sabahi and Abolfotoh were too selfish during the campaign. They say that if one of the two men withdrew in time, liberal, secular and leftist voters could have been unified behind a single candidate, who would have made it into the run-off.

Election officials count votes in Egypt

The new round of voting will come down to who wins the support of liberal voters

Revolutionaries and liberals to tip the vote

Morsi is now striving to win over the 40 percent of votes that went to more liberal candidates. He is negotiating with Sabahi and Abolfotoh to earn endorsements. The liberal candidates can expect significant concessions because Morsi is prepared to do what it takes to secure the presidency. It will come down to the negotiating skills of Sabai and Abolfotoh to plant the seeds for a more liberal political approach among the Muslim Brotherhood.

Depending on how things go, the revolutionary-minded Gaber would be prepared to vote for Morsi - anything but the bloodshed of the old regime.

"If they are willing to make concessions to us, then I would - with reservations - give them my vote as a sign against the old regime," she said.

Cairo is likely to be the stage for many rounds of negotiations in the coming days, and then the election campaign can start over. But Gaber is sure of one thing already: No matter who becomes president, she will demonstrate against him.

Author: Viktoria Kleber / gsw
Editor: Sean Sinico

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