December 12, 2011

TSG Atmospheric: Egyptian Election Results: Initial Assessment




The official results of the initial round of voting on November 28, 2011, in Egypt show that the Muslim Brotherhood's (MB) Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) achieved strong results, as was expected, but what was definitely unexpected - and unwelcome to many - was the strong showing by the Islamist religious parties.

This outcome was contrary to previous predictions which suggested that the anticipated huge turnout of Egyptians to vote would mean that the Islamists would face stiff competition from new "revolutionary" faces.

However, The "revolutionaries" failed to make any real headway, because they lacked organization and even the desire to form separate parties that could take on the larger well-funded and organized entities.

The Egyptian Bloc (EB) founded by billionaire Coptic businessman Naguib Sawiris (right) achieved impressive results - especially as it was only formed three months ago -   specifically to counter the influence of the MB.

Observers Without Borders  - independent election monitors - noted that, "Egyptian churches issued clear instructions to Coptic Christians to vote for the Egyptian Bloc."

The EB is a liberal alliance of the three political parties of the leftist Tagammu, the leftist Egyptian Socialist Democratic Party, and the liberal Free Egyptians.  The political aims of the EB are to establish Egypt as a modern civil state in which science plays an important role, and to create equality and social justice in the country.  The EB also intends to improve the quality of life for the poor, including the improvement of access to education, health care and housing.

The EB also supports the creation of a pluralistic, multiparty democracy, and rejects religious, racial, and sexual discrimination - thus running counter to the more extreme philosophies of the Salafist movement.

Nonetheless, the early successes of the FJP and Salafist Nur (Light) Party have led to an equally expected expression of concern from the U.S. and Israel, both of whom are nervous of Egypt becoming a more hard-line religious state, and one which might jettison the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, turn inward, and cease to be a reliable partner for Washington in its counter-terrorist efforts.

However, there are a number of issues to consider:

  • First: the voting results are for only one third of Egypt's provinces, and in turn affect only affect two thirds of the seats.  Consequently, the results have to be seen in the mathematical context that only approximately 22% of the total available seats were decided in the first voting round.
  • Second: the results of the one third of the districts who have voted cannot necessarily be extrapolated to be representative of all Egypt, thus the next two rounds of voting may not replicate the results of the first
  • Third: the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) is unlikely to allow any 'extremist' government to be formed, which might either threaten their privileged position or harm Egypt's national economic or political interest.
  • Fourth: A third of seats in parliament will be held by independents who may help form a political counterweight to other more hard-line politicians.
  • Fifth: The FJP candidates are part of the Democratic Alliance which also includes candidates of other parties with more liberal and left wing beliefs.  It is therefore dangerously speculative to make any kind of definitive prediction of the final electoral outcome until the end of the third stage of voting.

It is therefore in our opinion still too early to jump to any hasty conclusions.  SCAF, will - also in our opinion - be wholly unprepared to see Egypt lose its historical place as the heart of the Arab World as a result of a political election.  SCAF still hold the reins of power, and is most unlikely to cede them to those whom it does not trust: the Egyptian military has never done so before and is unlikely to start now.

Our analysis is set against the above context ...



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