Runoff dilemma in Egypt?
The Egyptian presidential race has come down to Mohamed Morsi, left, and Ahmed Shafik.
May 28th, 2012
02:56 PM ET

Runoff dilemma in Egypt?

By Kyle Almond, CNN

Egypt’s presidential race is headed for a runoff, but the two remaining candidates present voters with a serious dilemma, according to some analysts.

Sonya Farid, writing for Al Arabiya, said the two candidates who reached the runoff — Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik — are the most non-revolutionary of all the candidates and represent “two typically tyrannical institutions: the first (Morsi) being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the second (Shafik) a senior official of the former regime.”

Shafik was the last prime minister of former President Hosni Mubarak, who was forced out by protests in February 2011. Shafik received 5.5 million of the country’s 23 million votes, about 200,000 votes behind first-place finisher Morsi, who leads the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Voters must now choose between “a return to the old corrupt tyrannical regime or a complete transformation into a seemingly unfavorable scenario that would give the (Muslim) Brotherhood a trifecta of both parliamentary houses and the presidency,” wrote Adel Iskandar, a columnist for the Egypt Independent.

What happened to the more moderate candidates in the race? A poll published earlier this month by the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies showed secular candidate Amre Moussa leading moderate Islamist Abdelmonen Abol Fotoh, and the two were the only ones to take part in a televised debate. Yet Abol Fotoh finished fourth and Moussa fifth.

“Everything about Egypt’s revolution has been unexpected, and the first-round results in the country’s first-ever competitive presidential election are no different,” said Omar Ashour, director of Middle East Studies at the University of Exeter and a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution in Doha, Qatar.

Ashour, writing for Project Syndicate, says Egypt’s voters “overwhelmingly chose the revolution over the old regime … but their failure to unite on a single platform directly benefited Shafiq.”

Meanwhile, he said, Shafiq received strong support from Coptic Christians “because he was widely perceived as a bulwark against Islamism.”

Rania Al Malky, a Cairo-based columnist and the former chief editor of the Daily News Egypt, was shocked by how well Shafik fared.

“Egyptians have proven that they are still trapped in the anti-Islamist rhetoric of the Mubarak era,” she said in the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, a quarterly journal at American University in Cairo. “These results have taken us back to square one when many may find themselves forced to plug their ears and noses to give their protest vote to the (Freedom and Justice Party), just like the old days.

“The fear of Islamists is so deeply entrenched in the Egyptian psyche that it has obliterated the memory of the martyrs who gave their lives during the 18-day uprising. In a way, the shocking support for Shafik betrays a level of ethical and moral bankruptcy that surpasses mere political illiteracy.”

Morsi’s support, on the other hand, was not as surprising considering the strength and organization of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“It is not merely that the Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt’s 'best organized' group, as many commentators frequently note. It is the only organized group, with a nationwide hierarchy that can quickly transmit commands from its Cairo-based Guidance Office to its 600,000 members scattered throughout Egypt,” wrote Eric Trager in The New Republic.

Trager, a Next Generation Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says Morsi’s runoff hopes appear favorable:

“While Shafik can count on support from Egyptian Christians and many of the rural clans that previously backed Mubarak’s ruling party, Morsi is already drawing support from many non-Islamists who fear a return to the old regime more than a Brotherhood-dominated Egypt.  Moreover, early reports indicate that, faced with the choice between the autocratic Shafik and theocratic Morsi, many voters will stay home — a decision that will bolster Morsi, since low turnouts benefit well-organized parties.”

The runoff will take place June 16-17.

Since Mubarak’s ouster, the country has been led by its military.

Many Egyptians have protested the military leadership, saying it has delayed the transition to civilian rule. But the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has promised to hand over power.

Topics: Egypt • Elections

soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. disagreement

    First Post! Only post.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Reply
    • MikeinMN

      You can bet that the Koch brothers have a hand in it!

      May 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        What an interesting conspiracy that the Koch brothers might be funding Shafiq's election! Well, Egypt's military is as conservative as the ideology of the Koch Bros.
        Indeed the two candidates will polarise the country in the coming weeks ahead of the run-off, which would also pitch the old regime against its old adversary. For many Egyptians it is not an ideal choice. The young activists will not accept Shafiq, who get votes from mainly the rich and the Christians, fearful of an Islamist takeover and tired of upheavals. The Brotherhood seeks allies and has called for talks with those, who don't want turn the clock back.

        May 29, 2012 at 2:20 am |
    • WDinDallas

      ..and Soros has got two hands in it, on the other side.

      May 28, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Reply
    • whrrurfacts

      Kyle Almond states that "2/3 of the population of Bahrain are shiite". It seems that hehas already forgotten the ethics in journalism that perhaps he learned in whatever University he attended. I challenge Mr Almond to provide an atom of evidence from anywhere in this Universe that supports his notion that " 2/3 of the population of this tiny country are shiite" and that " .. demonstrators were asking for the current ruling family to step down". While I do NOT care who rules that tiny island, I do care about the turth and the whole truth to be presented at a website as reputable as CNN. here are the facts Mr. Almons. Most of the shiite live in timy villages in Bahrain (which as you know is not usually where the population density is in any country) and only a small group of the shiite led by a religious leader (Mr Salman) who was "educated"= brain washed in Qum (Iran) by Ayatollahs were asking for the current leaders to step down. This groups is currently losing support even from their own sympathizers because of the repeated acts of terrorism that they have committed against the local population and the asian workers (many of whom have been killed or mutilated).
      If you need additonal facts for your future "articles", you may contact me at any time and I will be more than happy to assist you to maintain your ethics and integrity (do you know what these words mean?) in reporting.

      June 2, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  2. Balasticman

    There is nothing to substantiate the suggestion here that Morsi, or any of the other "moderate Islamists" who didn't reach the run-off, are reformists. Seeing the base of Shafiq as being just a minority group of reactionaries overlooks the fact that the "revolution" has not connected with most Egyptians in any election to date. The dynamics of continuity and change in Egypt will not be decided in any one vote, or any one person or group of persons. http://balasticman.blogspot.it/2012/05/presidential-delusion.html

    May 28, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  3. tet1953

    Just what the world need, another Islamic theocracy. Egypt, Libya, probably Syria soon...all Irans in the making.

    May 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Reply
    • What???

      Arab Spring!!! Ha ha ha ha ha! Just wait! CNN this was what you wanted to see! Ha ha ha ha ha! Be careful of what you ask for! You just got it. The Muslim Brotherhood or a former Mubarak gov. official! Ha ha ha ha!!!!

      May 28, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Reply
      • MikeinMN

        So what makes you so joyful about this failure of democracy?

        May 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
      • me138

        Democracy has always failed throughout history its expected to fail.

        May 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
      • What???

        Right this down! In 5-10 yrs if not sooner Iraq will return to a doctorial government because none of the governments in the Middle East want the people to believe they can have control of their lives through the vote. Another thing, if Syria had oil we would have been bombing them just like we did Kaddafi! Unless there is an undiscovered oil field found in Syria you can bet there will be no weapons sent to help the Syrian rebels. The same thing for Egypt we didn’t help them except through CNN, ABC, MSNBC and the media but not one gun or bullet was sacrifice for that nor any non-oil producing country. Afghanistan does have minerals (an estimated over 1trillion dollars) and the other distinction of being a camp for Bin Laden. The people that really tell the world leaders what to do don’t see a high enough cost benefit to justify any resources going to a low reward rebellion! Democracy in this world is what someone allows you to believe you have.

        May 28, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
      • WDinDallas

        These people are definitely between a rock and a hard place. Theocracy vs. Military. The protesters never had a chance. This is going to get worst for them either way. They have to go with Shafik. They may have negotiations open there.

        May 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • the truther

      You can thank obama and europe for libya

      May 29, 2012 at 1:52 am | Reply
  4. yuri pelham

    Egyptians and Arabs as well are incapable of democracy. They just need a competent non narcissistic strongman who knows when to step down. Sadat was a fine leader, but you know what happens to fine leaders in Egypt.

    May 28, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Reply
    • Manchester U

      What makes you think they are incapabale of democracy? The Middle East has been occupied by the Turks and then by various European countries, primarily Britain and France, for much longer than they've been independent. Even after that alot of the leaders then and now are puppets of the US. They are assisted in staying in power for decades as long as they assist the US in strategic and economic matters. So the reason for all this messIf you don't help them they make you out to be an enemy, like Iran for example. Iran has never attacked the US yet the US constantly tries to hinder and sabotage them. Why? Because a bunch of protesters attacked the US embassy in Iran and took some people hostage. They were in revolution mode and have alot of pent up feelings against the US because the US helped bring down a democratically elected leader and helped install the Shah dictatorship. The US wasnt upset because of hostages they were upset because their poodle got taken down. The Iranians, have no beef with Americans and want a healthy relationship with them, they have issues with US policies which is justified. Once the US ends the policy of propping up dictators or leaders for American benefit over the benefit of the people of the actual country then they'red be alot less problems in the world.

      May 31, 2012 at 9:14 am | Reply
  5. Aces Full

    Arab Spring – what a joke, it's a Muslim Caliphate.

    May 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Reply
    • WDinDallas

      That has always been what it is all about. Hopefully our ignorant world leaders will recognized this. That is what Bin Ladin was trying to achieve. Guess he won after all.

      May 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  6. Evil 1

    Egyptian rag head pukes get what they deserve – a choice between the devil or the deep blue sea.

    May 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  7. whocares12345

    My prediction: Shafik will win a close contest. The opposition will claim (probably rightly so) that the military tampered with the votes. People will take to the streets and camp out in Tahrir square. Riots will ensue, and the revolution will continue on.

    May 28, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  8. Carl

    What is WRONG with Arabs? They have a chance for true democracy and they want to lock themselves up with a religious dictatorship or a secular dictatorship?????? Staggering. Just Staggering.

    May 28, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Reply
    • me138

      True democracy has never ever worked why would it work now?

      May 28, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Reply
    • the truther

      you talk about democracy but hate them choosing who they want to vote for?

      May 29, 2012 at 1:55 am | Reply
  9. Bobby

    It will be a dictatorship regardless. Muslims continue to take control of more of the world. Places like England are not too far behind. The US has a few years left, but likely before the next century gets here. It will be communism vs Islamist.

    May 28, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Reply
    • Hahahahahahaha

      Communism by a landslide!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hahahahahahahaha

      May 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  10. Duck Dodgers

    Why is it that the only country in the middle east that can get this whole freedom thing right is Israel???

    May 28, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Reply
  11. LeRoy C. Johnson

    Nations within the Islam Empire are incapable of coping with Democracy. All our wars in the Middle East are religious wars that can never be won or lost. These wars are like "old soldiers," they just fade away.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:37 am | Reply
  12. the truther

    wait I'm confused, you want muslims to vote. Now that they're voting, you don't want them to choose who they're voting? it's like a rock and a hard place

    May 29, 2012 at 1:53 am | Reply
  13. kareem hassan

    first ,Egypt now is in a new era after the Hosni Moubarak regime, I disagree with the concept that shafik is belonging to the regime,I think he will frankly make achange in egypt .

    May 29, 2012 at 3:52 am | Reply
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    May 29, 2012 at 6:43 am | Reply
  15. Bill

    They continue to state that such occurences are "unexpected", yet analysts have been predicting this scenario. Does it surprise anyone that the Muslim Brotherhood has the political organization to steal the elections? Does it surprise anyone that the "militaries" candidate made it to the runoff? Secular candidates continue to fail and are a minority in a nation of Islamists, but somehow the press lists these events as "suprising". They are to be expected.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:56 am | Reply
  16. saeedTheTowelHead

    Towel Heads is what Towel Heads do.

    May 29, 2012 at 9:29 am | Reply
  17. Denverboy

    The people of Egypt just cant seem to catch a break...Autocratic or Theocratic...They seem to have missed DEMOCRATIC somewhere in there...You know FREEDOM FROM both thoes other very very heavey handed forms of Government...
    I fear there Spring has turned to winter and Summer and Fall were stolen by the corrupt powers of the morons running for President...President what a joke..The next (LEADER) will be just that...The next dictator...I feel for the people of Egypt.....They have been around for thousands of years ..Yet somehow always end up with PHAROS

    May 29, 2012 at 10:19 am | Reply
  18. AlexShch

    Sounds like the 2010 situation in Ukraine after sobering up from the hangover of Orange Revolution: corrupt, incompetent, populist-lying Yulia Timoshenko vs. corrupt, not so incompetent, but with criminal past and criminal ties Victor Yanukovich.

    May 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  19. Chukwuemeka

    Egypt is at the same crossroads that my country Nigeria was in 1998. Many doubted the military would truely hand over to the civilians, and so many credible candidates refused to participate in the democratic process. Now they are caught up between choosing an Islamist and an Autocratic candidate. My advise is the Islamist would take them on a ride that would be participatory on the part of the civil populace while the regime man would continue from were Mubarak stopped. Therefore Egyptians should vote Morsi in as the President.

    May 30, 2012 at 4:37 am | Reply
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    June 15, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Reply
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