On one hand is the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Mursi, and on the other is Ahmed Shafiq, who is said to represent the status quo. It seems as if a harsh struggle that has been taking place behind closed doors for decades has finally come into the light.
Anticipating who will be successful in the second round of voting that will take place in too weeks seems more difficult than it was to anticipate which candidates would make it to attend the second round.
Careful calculations are being made and both leaders are making a great effort to win the votes of those who as yet remain undecided. The votes received by Mursi and Shafiq in the first round are almost equal. This fact requires us to consider the votes these two may receive in the second round from those who had voted for the unsuccessful candidates in the first round.
The most critical names for Mursi and Shafiq, each of whom won around 25 percent of the vote in the first round, are Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and Hamdin Sabbahi, who together won a total of 40 percent of the vote. It is expected that the majority of people who voted for Amr Moussa will support Shafiq.
If we assume that the majority of Aboul Fotouh’s supporters are the youngsters of the Muslim Brotherhood, we can predict that they will vote for Mursi in the second round. However, we don’t know how many of them will vote for Mursi in the second round. Still, when these votes go from Aboul Fotouh to Mursi, and when you consider the votes for Moussa will go to Shafiq, there will still be equal support for both Mursi and Shafiq.
As we had predicted previously, Sabbahi is the figure who may have the greatest effect on the elections results. Sabbahi has said that he approves of neither of these two candidates. If he does not change his position and boycotts the second round of the elections, will his supporters also refrain from visiting the ballot boxes? It seems impossible that Sabbahi, the leader of the left-wing Nasserist Dignity Party, which is one of the smallest political parties in Egypt, will be able to convince his voters to take such a stance regarding the second round of the elections.
Another group that may change the balance of votes in the elections is the Salafis. It cannot be predicted what kind of policy the Salafis, who played an important role in knocking Aboul Fotouh out by abstaining from voting in the first round, might pursue in the second round. It is unclear whether or not they will support Mursi even if they do go to the ballot boxes.
Recall that some Salafi leaders who became popular when the anti-Mubarak protests started had declared anti-Mubarak protesters unbelievers. This indicates that some Salafis may vote for Shafiq.
Besides, voter participation in elections is always lower than expected. While voter participation was approximately 60 percent in the Egyptian parliamentary elections from November to February, in the first round of presidential elections, which have been called the most critical elections for the country, the rate of participation was even lower than 50 percent.
Should these figures drop even lower, it won’t be possible for public opinion to be reflected at the ballot boxes. However, low voter participation is one of the most significant weaknesses of democracy.
In conclusion, the new president will be selected according to the preferences of the public. This result should be accepted by all social circles. Protesting against certain candidates will do no good; instead it will cause the country to drift into a state of chaos. The public should wait and see what happens. Organizing protests in reaction to political missteps is one of the best aspects of democracy. These protests help create balance and stability in a democratic system.
Just gathering in a square without getting involved in any political processes will do no good; it will only serve to block a system that is already on the verge of breaking.
It is certain that Mursi or Shafiq, whichever rises to power, will be more careful about his policies as he will be aware he is in the spotlight. This may cause the new leader to perform better than expected and to implement policies that are truly beneficial for the country.
We have examples of this in Turkey. Turgut Özal, who came to power as prime minister after winning a landslide victory in elections that were held three years after the 1980 military coup, sparked Turkey’s development. Özal, who was permitted to take part in the elections from which several parties were banned by the military council that had governed the country with supreme power for three years and who was even said in some social circles to promote the military’s policies, instead surprised everyone and became a symbol of change in Turkey.