MÜMTAZER TÜRKÖNE

Morsi’s victory

Despite widespread worries, the declaration by the Egyptian election commission that »»

Despite widespread worries, the declaration by the Egyptian election commission that Mohammed Morsi was in fact the victor marks the first elections of a democratic Egypt. This is not a happy ending. It is instead a shining start full of possibilities for crises, problems and an adventure-filled future. For nearly half of history as we know it, Egypt was at the center of civilization. And for the first time in over 5,000 years, a leader is coming to the helm via an election. Which means that, in fact, many things are set to change.

When I visited Cairo a few years back, I heard a joke that many of my Egyptian friends were telling at the time: President George Bush and Hosni Mubarak were talking at the White House at a time when Bush was preparing for the elections that would lead to a second term in office. He asks Mubarak: “How is it that you manage to win all of your elections with over 90 percent of the vote? Please teach me your methods.” Mubarak replies: “I have no idea. In Egypt, that business falls to our interior minister, Habib el-Adly. If you want, I can send him over and let him lead your campaign.” Bush agrees to this, and so el-Adly comes to the US and directs Bush’s re-election campaign. The result? Mubarak winds up winning the US elections by a margin of 95 percent.

This joke kept running through my mind these past few days as the final decision from the Egyptian election commission was being awaited. Keeping the 51.3 percent vote obtained by Morsi in mind, here is an interpretation of what happened: The election council was persuaded of Morsi’s true victory… In short, this decision -- within the greater context of an Egypt at a critical juncture in the road -- means that the civilian-military bureaucracy has bowed its neck to the pressures placed on it and that one part of the leadership of the nation will now be shared with the people of the country.

So, a part of the leadership of the country is to be shared with the people of the nation? Alright, but how much?

Before the results from the elections were declared, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) dissolved the Egyptian Parliament, shouldered the former’s legislative duties and, in the process, put the finishing touches on the whole guardian authority order. Now it is most likely that this same guardian authority will be built atop Morsi, who should be leading the nation solo. In Egypt, the order of military authority is put into place in concert with the high court system. It does not appear possible that this order can soon be eliminated. What the Muslim Brotherhood movement -- which won the state presidential elections -- needs is time, and a lot of it. And it is clear that within this time there will be many provocations undertaken by the status quo to delegitimize this movement as much as possible.

The answer to this question is very important: How was the military convinced of Morsi’s state presidency? The known, clear reason is the crowds that gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. And no doubt the essential factor here is also the pressure placed by the US on the military. This pressure was spot on, as taking away the presidency from the Muslim Brotherhood would have ended up pushing Egypt into a state of instability for a long time. The US places much importance on gaining the approval of the people of a nation because angry reactions to the military would easily turn the atmosphere into hostility towards the US and thus Israel. This is where it becomes important that these elections were not a final result, but rather a beginning. Now, over a long period, the Muslim Brotherhood will see its voter base follow along with their hopes and soften in the process. In response, the movement must really use its power and bring an end to violations of the law. As for the US, it must keep its stance clear and open on this front.

All military orders unfold and function in ways that resemble each other. We here in Turkey are quite familiar with the way things go. Through the process of the Arab Spring, many crimes were committed in Egypt; these were largely crimes committed by those wielding state authorities and they were crimes that violated human rights. And since the court system has been under military control, it has been very difficult to shed light on these crimes. But democracy continues to constantly create new solutions.

Egypt has gotten off to a shining start in finding solutions. A door has been opened. But there is need for more time to see the real results. Morsi is just the hero of the very first section of an adventure in democracy that is set to last for a long time.

2012-06-25

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Columnist:: MÜMTAZER TÜRKÖNE