Rubin Reports: Egypt’s Elections – Titanic of Western Interests Meet Iceberg of Islamist Revolutionary Zeal
There are now a total of 23 candidates, though it is possible there will be a few more before registration closes April 26. Aside from Mursi and Moussa, they include two other Islamists, three moderates, and a leftist.
In all of this, there is a hugely important point that’s been generally missed: Unlike the Brotherhood, the radical Salafists have not yet produced an alternative candidate. A lot of its members are endorsing Mursi. Now the Salafist al-Nour party has genuine differences with the Brotherhood, though more over timing and the desire for power than anything substantive. Still, al-Nour may be splitting over the party’s support for Mursi. But if the dissidents don’t have a candidate at all, who will the 25 percent of al-Nour’s supporters in the parliamentary ballot support?
In theory, then, Mursi can depend on 75 percent of the electorate — the Brotherhood and al-Nour voters — based on the parliamentary vote! He won’t get that many because a lot of those who voted for Islamists may want some balance in the government or just happen to like Moussa, whose anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Israel credentials are strong.
Still, will enough voters switch to Moussa to tilt the balance? Moreover, in a run-off between Mursi and Moussa, the former should be able to depend on stronger support from any al-Nour supporters who are ambiguous about how they will vote in the first round.
So nobody can predict the victor. Still, overall, one might better assume that Egypt is going to have an Islamist president and parliament just eight weeks from now, to be followed by an Islamist constitution.
As far as I can tell — and amazing as this might seem — there has been no preparation in the West for such an outcome. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed we can read:
What is poorly understood in the West is how critical fundamentalists are to the moral and political rejuvenation of their countries. As counterintuitive as it seems, they are the key to more democratic, liberal politics in the region.
Of course, there is a grain of truth in what Reuel Gerecht said in his op-ed. If Islamists weren’t allowed to participate, there couldn’t be fair elections. And if they do participate and win, one can call the resulting system democracy.Barry Rubin
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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