Egypt’s future will begin to take shape this fall when elections are held in the fall. An exact date for the elections has not yet been set by the military. But everyone expects that the voting will occur sometime before December. If present trends continue, the Muslim Brotherhood will score a resounding electoral victory and put themselves firmly in charge of Egyptian governance.
Although secular, liberal forces took the lead in organising the popular uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, it’s the Muslim Brotherhood that has emerged as Egypt’s most powerful political force.
The Muslim Brotherhood, it turns out, is really good at politics. And the liberal, secular parties aren’t so good at it. The contrast is captured neatly by Time magazine’s Bobby Ghosh:
The gap between the two sides was exposed in a mid-March referendum on constitutional reforms. The Brotherhood mobilized a massive “yes” vote to ensure that any meaningful reforms would take place after the parliamentary elections. The liberals were split, unsure as to which scenario they feared more: a constitution written by a military-appointed panel before the elections, or one written by a Brotherhood-dominated parliament afterward. It was a rout: 77% voted yes.
The gap has not closed. Since the referendum, many liberals have sought to undermine the result by trying to force through reforms before the elections. Their great champion, former U.N. nuclear watchdog (and Nobel laureate) Mohamed ElBaradei, argues that the constitution can’t wait for people’s elected representatives. The youth leaders agree and are threatening to return to Tahrir Square if they don’t get their way. They claim the referendum doesn’t matter because the Brotherhood misled Egyptians by portraying it as a vote on religion. (The Islamists deny this, and some neutral observers say both sides played fast and loose with the facts.)
This carping makes the liberals look like sore losers, and far from democratic. Critics accuse them of trying to buy time: a postponement in the elections would give liberals more time to get their political house in order and hopefully catch up with the Brotherhood’s organizational lead. Even Alaa al-Aswany, a novelist and strong Brotherhood critic, acknowledges that it ill behooves the liberals to attempt an end run around the referendum. “The people made a choice, and we have to respect it,” he says.
The Brotherhood, meanwhile, is sitting pretty. It has offered to form a broad coalition with liberals and leftists in the elections, and promises that there will be no attempt to hijack the constitutional reform process afterward. “The new constitution has to be written by all Egyptians,” says Essam Erian, a top Brotherhood leader. “No one group should have a louder voice than the others.” This makes the Islamists look responsible and conciliatory, and is likely to play well with voters.
You can read the whole thing here.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.