Incoming Election Results

27 Governorates of Egypt

In a stunning turn of events, Amr Moussa and Aboul Fotouh’s probabilities of making it to the second round of Egypt’s presidential elections sank since the early stages of the vote count. The Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy was the most voted candidate, gaining 25.3% of the votes. The unexpected performance of secular nationalist Hamdeen Sabbahi (21.6%) was not enough to get him to the run-offs which will take place on 16 and 17 June, since the candidate of the former regime Ahmed Shafiq collected a surprising 23.7% of national votes. Here’s the results for each governorate:

ALEXANDRIA according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. A total of 1,761,000 voters cast their ballots with a turnout of 53.5 per cent.

  1. Sabbahi 602,000 (34.2 per cent)
  2. Aboul Fotouh 387,000 (22 per cent)
  3. Moussa 291,000 (16.5 per cent)
  4. Morsy 269,000 (15.3 per cent)
  5. Shafiq 212,000 (12 per cent)

AL BUHAYRAH, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. A total of 1,329,753 voters cast their ballot with turnout reaching 41.2 per cent.

  1. Morsy 389,206 (29.2 per cent)
  2. Aboul Fotouh 332,753 (25 per cent)
  3. Moussa 242,196 (18.2 per cent)
  4. Sabbahi 194,502 (14.6 per cent)
  5. Shafiq 171,013 (12.86 per cent)

KAFR ASH SHAYKH, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. A total of 774,059 voters cast their ballot with a turnout of 41.5 per cent.

  1. Sabbahi 486,662 (62.8 per cent)
  2. Morsy 133,932 (17.3 per cent)
  3. Aboul Fotouh 67,164 (8.6 per cent)
  4. Shafiq 63,395 (8.1 per cent)
  5. Moussa 22,906 (2.9 per cent)

DUMYAT, according to Al-Hayat TV. A total of 438,334 voters cast their ballot with turnout reaching 51.4 per cent.

  1. Aboul Fotouh 106,219  (24.2 per cent)
  2. Sabbahi 105,877 (24.1 per cent)
  3. Morsy 105,610  (24 per cent)
  4. Moussa 66,066 (15 per cent)
  5. Shafiq 54,562  (12.4 per cent)

PORT SAID, according to an official statement by the seaside governorate’s electoral operation room. 57,6 per cent of the registered 436,703 voters cast their ballot.

  1. Sabbahi 104,516 (41.5 per cent)
  2. Shafiq 41,487 (16.5 per cent)
  3. Morsy 38,439 (15,2 per cent)
  4. Moussa 37,470 (14,9 per cent)
  5. Aboul Fotouh 29,636 (11.7 per cent)

AD DAQAHLIYAH, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. A total of 1,685,399 voters cast their ballot with turnout reaching 42.1 per cent.

  1. Shafiq 418,527 (27 per cent)
  2. Sabbahi 394,553 (25.5 per cent)
  3. Morsy 388,525 (25.1 per cent)
  4. Aboul Fotouh 247,264 (15.9 per cent)
  5. Moussa 99,000 (6.4 per cent)

AL GHARBIYAH, according to Al-Ahram Arabicnews website. The governorate saw 1,319,667 voters, about 45% of the total.

  1. Shafiq 421,411 (31.9 per cent)
  2. Sabbahi 308,424 (23.3 per cent)
  3. Morsy 245,438 (18.6 per cent)
  4. Aboul Fotouh 217,518 (16.4 per cent)
  5. Moussa 126,876 (9.6 per cent)

AL MINUFIYAH, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. A total of 1,064,543 voters cast their ballot with a turnout of 47.9 per cent.

  1.   Shafiq 586,345 (55.0 per cent)
  2.   Morsy 203,503 (19.1 per cent)
  3.   Aboul Fotouh 133,788 (12.57 per cent)
  4.   Sabbahi 105,727 (12.57 per cent)
  5.   Moussa 35,180 (3.3 per cent)

AL QALYUBIYAHaccording to Al-Ahram’s reporters at the headquarters of the Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC). Turnout of voters in the southern Delta governorate reached around 49.7 per cent, out of a total of 2,606,058 registered voters.

  1. Shafiq 395,553 (30.5 per cent)
  2. Mursi 302,352 (23.3 per cent)
  3. Sabbahi 272,662 (21.0 per cent)
  4. Abul Fotouh 170,166 (13.1 per cent)
  5. Moussa 155,452 (11.9 per cent)

ASH SHARQIYAH, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. A total of 1,666,193 voters cast their ballots with a turnout of 47.6 per cent.

  1. Shafiq 627,808 (37.6 per cent)
  2. Morsy 536,634 (32.2 per cent)
  3. Aboul Fotouh 220,920 (13.2 per cent)
  4. Sabbahi 211,106 (12.6 per cent)
  5. Moussa 69,725 (4.1 per cent)

AL ISMA’ILIYAH, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. Turnout of voters in the Suez Canal governorate reached around 48.9 per cent, out of a total of 700,515 registered voters.

  1. Mursi 92,633 (27.0 per cent)
  2. Sabbahi 71,679 (20.9 per cent)
  3. Moussa 65,988 (19.2 per cent)
  4. Abul Fotouh 59,697 (17.4 per cent)
  5. Shafiq 52,377 (15.3 per cent)

CAIRO, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news site. Turnout of voters reached 50.2% of the total 6,497,887 registered voters.

  1. Sabbahi 993,464 (34.6 per cent)
  2. Shafiq 744,138 (25.9 per cent)
  3. Morsy 579,715 (20.1 per cent)
  4. Aboul Fotouh 553,200 (19.2 per cent)

GIZA, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news site. Turnout of voters is around 47.6 per cent, out of a total of 4,289,421 registered voters.

  1. Morsy 566,600 (27.78per cent)
  2. Aboul Fotouh 423,127 (20.7 per cent)
  3. Sabbahi 417,000 (20.4 per cent)
  4. Shafiq 351,000 (17.2 per cent)
  5. Moussa 236,132 (11.56 per cent)

SUEZ, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. A total of 207,891 voters cast their ballot with turnout reaching 54.5 per cent.

  1. Morsy 49,719 (23.9 per cent)
  2. Sabbahi 45,500 (21.9 per cent)
  3. Moussa 43,469 (20.9 per cent)
  4. Aboul Fotouh 41,989 (20.2 per cent)
  5. Shafiq 21,816 (10.5 per cent)

NORTH SINAI, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. Turnout of voters in North Sinai reached around 41 per cent, out of a total of 207,906.

  1. Mursi 32,431 (38.03 per cent)
  2. Moussa 20,937 (24.55 per cent)
  3. Abul-Fotouh 15,830 (18.56 per cent)
  4. Shafiq 8,470 (9.93 per cent)
  5. Sabbahi 7,616 (8.93 per cent)

SOUTH SINAI, according to Al Ahram English news website. A total of 26,297 votes were cast with a turnout rate of 42 per cent:

  1. Moussa 6,910 (28.7 per cent)
  2. Morsy 4,895 (20.3 per cent)
  3. Aboul Fotouh 4,305 (17.8 per cent)
  4. Shafiq 4,102 (17 per cent)
  5. Sabbahi 3,849 (16 per cent)

FAYOUM, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news website. Turnout of voters in Upper Egypt governorate reached around 38.8 per cent, out of a total of 1,554,788 registered voters.

  1. Mursi 288,848 (47.9 per cent)
  2. Abul Fotouh 168,413 (27.9 per cent)
  3. Shafiq 75,042 (12.4 per cent)
  4. Sabbahi 37,804 (6.2 per cent)
  5. Moussa 32,476 (5.3 per cent)

BANI SUWAYF, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. A total of 612,553  voters cast their ballot with a turnout of 42.9 per cent.

  1. Morsy 258,247 (42.1 per cent)
  2. Aboul Fotouh 130,986 (21.4 per cent)
  3. Shafiq 118,296 (19.3 per cent)
  4. Moussa 57,024 (9.31 per cent)
  5. Sabbahi 48,000 (7.8 per cent)

AL MINYA, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. A total of 943,915 voters cast their ballot with a turnout of 35.4 per cent.

  1. Morsy 407,201 (43.1 per cent)
  2. Shafiq 265,402 (28.1 per cent)
  3. Aboul Fotouh 150,503 (15.9 per cent)
  4. Sabbahi 64,314 (6.8 per cent)
  5. Moussa 56,495 (5.9 per cent)

RED SEA, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website, with a 40.4 per cent turnout out of 225,218 registered voters.

  1. Sabbahi 22,384 (24.6 per cent)
  2. Moussa 18,651 (20.5 per cent)
  3. Shafiq 18,042 (19.83 per cent)
  4. Aboul Fotouh 16,328 (17.9 per cent)
  5. Morsy 15,593 (17.1 per cent)

ASYUT, according to Al-Ahram’s reporters in Assiut. Turnout of voters in Assiut reached around 32.6 per cent, out of a total of 2,087,308 registered voters.

  1. Mursi 210,445 (30.9 per cent)
  2. Shafiq 193,503 (28.4 per cent)
  3. Abul Fotouh 136,006 (20.0 per cent)
  4. Sabbahi 65,017 (9.5 per cent)
  5. Moussa 55,887 (8.2 per cent)

SUHAJ, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. Turnout of voters in Sohag reached around 27.3 per cent, out of a total of 2,347,958 registered voters.

  1. Morsy 202,554 (31.6 per cent)
  2. Shafiq 177,418 (27.7 per cent)
  3. Aboul Fotouh 113,617 (17.7 per cent)
  4. Moussa 100,032 (15.6 per cent)
  5. Sabbahi 47,463 (7.4 per cent)

QINA, according to Al-Hayat TV. A total of 377,092 voters cast their ballot with turnout reaching 23.5 per cent.

  1. Morsy 97,267 (25.8 per cent)
  2. Shafiq 83,931 (22.2 per cent)
  3. Aboul Fotouh 78,789 (20.8 per cent)
  4. Moussa 74,909 (19.8 per cent)
  5. Sabbahi 42,196 (11.2 per cent)

LUXOR [with the exclusion of the city of Al-Qarna's results, still due], according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. A total of 186,128 voters cast their ballot with a turnout of 27.6 per cent.

  1.  Shafiq 47,433 (25.5 per cent)
  2.  Morsy 44,720 (24 per cent)
  3.  Aboul Fotouh 38,635 (20.8 per cent)
  4.  Sabbahi 32,750 (17.6 per cent)
  5.  Moussa 22,590 (12.1 per cent)

ASWAN, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. A total of 252,579 voters cast their ballot with a turnout of 29.4 per cent.

  1. Morsy 60,495 (23.95 per cent)
  2. Moussa 59,790 (23.6 per cent)
  3.   Shafiq 45,813 (18.1 per cent)
  4.   Aboul Fotouh 44,795 (17.7 per cent)
  5.   Sabbahi 41,686 (16.5 per cent)

NEW VALLEY, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website. Turnout of voters in El-Wadi El-Gedid reached around 36.9 per cent, out of a total of 141,959.

  1. Mursi 15,571 (29.7 per cent)
  2. Abul-Fotouh  13,338 (25.5 per cent)
  3. Moussa 9,406 (18 per cent)
  4. Sabahi 7,607 (14.5 per cent)
  5. Shafiq 6,448 (12.3 per cent)

The 11 Presidential candidates

The eleven candidates of Egypt’s presidential elections

 

Egypt’s first democratic Presidential elections have begun today. 53 million eligible voters are asked to choose between eleven candidates. Only five candidates, however, seem to have a credible possibility of making it to the second turn, which will take place on 16 and 17 June if by tomorrow nobody will have reached an absolute majority of votes.

Polls have been throwing around some contradictory guess-work, but reliable predictions are very hard to make. The Islamist vote will be divided between the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohamed Morsy and former Brotherhood member Abouel Fotouh. Mohamed Morsy can count on the support of the Brotherhood’s mainstream, the Salafi Jurisprudence Commission for Rights and Reform and Salafi political parties Asala, Fadhila and Islah. Abouel Fotouh can count on the more progressive and revolutionary currents within the Brotherhood and has the support of the moderate Wasat Party, but has also been endorsed by the Salafi Dawah group and its political party Al Nour.

The revolutionary vote is divided mainly between those who are considering voting for Abouel Fotouh and those who support the Nasserist candidate, Hamdeen Sabbahi. Abouel Fotouh has consistently been one of the most outspoken critics of the military council, and has been endorsed by some groups within the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, but others have voiced their opposition. Hamdeen Sabbahi represents the choice of those who fear Abouel Fotouh might indeed still be very close to the Brotherhood, which already controls 40% of Parliament.

The liberal vote is struggling just as much to make up its mind, torn as it is between Amr Moussa and Abouel Fotouh. The Wafd party has thrown its weight behind Amr Moussa, the popular former Foreign Minister who has been leading most polls in the last months. Many, however, see him as a feloul, a “remnant” of Mubarak’s regime. The higher echelons of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Free Egyptians Party and the Adl Party all seemed inclined to back Amr Moussa, but threats of mass resignation from their rank and file convinced them to take a more cautious approach, deciding not to back a particular candidate for the first round of voting.

But the military and counter-revolutionary forces seem to be equally divided on their choice, with former Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq competing for their preference. Until recently, the candidate closest to the military council was thought to be Amr Moussa, a popular statesman distant enough from Mubarak’s regime to be able to claim exemption from its corruption. In the last month, however, Shafiq has stepped into the crowded spotlight and asserted himself as a viable candidate, becoming the frontrunner in two different polls commissioned by government-affiliated pollsters.

The outcome of this first round of voting is bound to blow away all this indecision. When it will be down to two alternatives Egyptians might be disgruntled by the remaining options, but they will most likely have no doubt on what to do with their ballot.

[read more about the individual candidates here]

Presidential elections approaching

The attempts of collaboration between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) appear to have sinked. 

The Brotherhood had managed to get the military ruling council to agree to its request of having parliamentary elections as the first step of the democratic transition, fully aware that their widespread presence on the territory would have granted them a dominating position inside both Houses of Parliament. The Brotherhood had then accepted the SCAF’s request to have the new Constitution approved before the Presidential elections, while the army was still in control of the country. The Brotherhood also halted all support to the ongoing street protests, often siding with the SCAF in criticising the demonstrations, and speculations started to spread regarding a consensus presidential candidate that the SCAF and the Brotherhood could agree on. But somewhere down the line this convergence of interests stopped working, and all of a sudden the military junta and the Islamist organisation started exchanging increasingly heated accusations.

The climatic point of rupture was represented by the Brotherhood’s sudden decision to recuse its long held pledge not to field a Presidential candidate, and present the nomination of Khairat El Shater, the Brotherhood’s second-in-command and one of it’s most popular figures. Shortly afterwards, in a further dramatic turn of events, the Presidential Elections Commission excluded ten contendants from the race, with El Shater and other high profile candidates among them. A military tribunal had jailed El Shater in 2007 on a number of charges including money laundering and providing university students with arms. It was common opinion that the Brotherhood leader had been jailed by the Mubarak regime for purely political reasons, and in fact El Shater received an amnesty right after the fall of the dictatorship. But the Egyptian law bans pardoned convicts from exercising their political rights for six years, and when a lawsuit was filed challenging El Shater’s eligibility, the Presidential Elections Commission ruled for his exclusion from the presidential race.

The main Salafi candidate, Hazem Abu Ismail, was also barred from running, on the grounds that his mother owned a double citizenship and a United States passport, which goes against the new electoral law introduced after Mubarak’s ousting. Omar Suleiman, head of Egypt’s Secret Service for eighteen years before being appointed vice President by Mubarak in his last days in power, was excluded for failing to collect the required amount of signatures in all of Egypt’s districts. Mortada Mansour, a lawyer with strong connections to Mubarak’s regime, appears to have gone into hiding, after failing to show up at the trial that sees him accused of being involved in conspiring to kill protesters during last year’s uprising, and so far has escaped arrest.

The presidential elections are set to take place on 23 and 24 May, the runoff voting round will be on 16 and 17 June, and the new President will be named on 21 June. Here is a list of the main presidential candidates left in the race. Some, however, believe that the first two names in the list (Amr Moussa and Abou El Fotouh) are the only candidates with a real chance of winning.

SCAF’s candidate?

Amr Moussa

Foreign minister under Mubarak from 1991 to 2001, Amr Moussa became well known for his strong anti-Israeli rhetoric. He was then appointed Secretary General of the Arab League, and some believe this removal from national politics was Mubarak’s response to Moussa’s increasing popularity. After the exclusion of Omar Suleiman, Amr Moussa seems to be hoping to become the conservative candidate SCAF will endorse. He’s adamant in avoiding criticism toward the military junta, claims that “it’s not in the best interest of the next President” to be discussing SCAF members’ future immunity against prosecution, and refuses to elaborate his views on what the balance of powers between the next President and the Egyptian military should be. Moussa is trying to present himself as a necessary balance to the rapidly growing power of the Islamists – which already control the Parliament. His name seems to be coming first on the list in every presidential poll.

The revolutionary moderate Islamist

Abdul Moneim Abou El Fotouh:

Abou El Fotouh was a high profile member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s reformist wing. Last year he defied the Brotherhood’s claim not to field any presidential candidates and declared his intentions to run for the presidential elections, causing the Brotherhood’s conservative leadership to expel him. Abou El Fotouh is a vocal supporter of gender and religious equality, and is trying to present himself as the most viable revolutionary candidate, the meeting point between moderate reformist islamists and secular revolutionaries. He believes military commanders should not enjoy immunity from prosecution for crimes committed against protesters during the transitional period. Moreover, as the SCAF tries to find a way to maintain its economic interests safe and its budget separate and secret, Abou El Fotouh has declared he would include the military budget in the overall state budget, and that he is “against the military having any role outside its duty of securing the safety of the country.” Notwithstanding the Muslim Brotherhood’s threat to expel anybody who supports his campaign, some analysts seem to believe that a considerable portion of the organisation’s rank and file could still vote for him.

One of the left’s candidates

Hamdeen Sabbahi. 

Sabbahi is a Nasserist, an ideology that refers to former President Nasser’s political thought based on a strong nationalist and pan-Arab rhetoric. During the Parliamentary elections, Sabbahi’s centre-left political party chose to run in the alliance led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Sabbahi was jailed twice during Mubarak’s regime, and after the uprising he has been a vocal critic of “the SCAF’s mismanagement of the transitional period,” repeatedly calling for investigations into the violence against protesters and for a revision of the Ministry of Interior. He also believes the SCAF should not enjoy immunity from prosecution, once it resigns from power. He’s critical of the Camp David peace accords between Egypt and Israel, and has vowed Egyptian aid to Palestinians in case of his election. However, there seem to be attempts to merge his campaign with that of Abou el Fotouh.

The isolated die-hard

Ahmed Shafiq

A man of military background, Shafiq has extensive connections to Mubarak’s dictatorship. He was nominated air force commander in 1996, and then became Mubarak’s Civil Aviation Minister from 2002 to 2011. On 29 January 2011, five days into Egypt’s mass protests and 13 days before the fall of the regime, he was appointed Prime Minister by Mubarak and remained in power even after the dictator’s resignation, but the continued protests forced him to resign in March 2011. He now stepped back on the political scene, although facing 35 charges of corruption related to his years as Civil Aviation Minister.  Some believed he was a possible candidate representing the SCAF’s interests, but this week the military showed otherwise by signing its approval to a new Parliament law taylor made to make Shafiq’s candidacy illegal. The Presidential Elections Commission, however, accepted Shafiq’s appeal, allowing him to continue the presidential race.

Another of the left’s candidates

Abou El Ezz El Hariri,

El Hariry is running on behalf of the Socialist Popular Alliance. He was elected MP, but his staunch opposition to the SCAF leads him to claim the Parliament’s illegitimacy, since the elections took place under the military’s rule. He believes a clear deal had been struck between the Brotherhood, the Salafis and the SCAF, although now the army and the Islamists are in a “tug of war.” He’s the one who filed the lawsuit which expelled Shater – the Brotherhood’s original candidate – from the Presidential race. El Hariri may also step back in order to channel all the “revolutionary” votes to either Sabbahi or Abou El Fotouh.


The Brotherhood’s controversial candidate

Mohamed Morsy

Mohamed Morsy is the President of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, and after Shater’s exclusion he has become the Brotherhood’s candidate in the Presidential race. However, cracks have started to appear within the Islamist organisation. It’s complete reversal of position regarding the fielding of a presidential candidate has raised a lot of criticism among both Brotherhood members and leadership. According to one source, up to 80% of Brotherhood MPs were against the nomination of a Brotherhood candidate, with at least one prominent MP publicly announcing his opposition to it. Several youth members have also voiced their unease with a Brotherhood-nominated candidate.

The remaining Islamist candidate

Mohamed Selim Al Awa

After the exclusion of the famous and popular Salafi candidate Hazem Abu Ismail, Selim Al Awa is now vying with Abou El Fotouh and Morsy for the Islamist vote. The Salafist Nour Party, which surprised all by winning 25% of seats in the new Parliament, has named Selim Al Awa as one of the possible candidates it will choose to endorse. According to one source, however, Abu Ismail’s supporters are more likely to back Abouel Fotouh. Selim Al Awa has repeatedly declared his aversion to street protests, since “they endanger stability and prevent people from going about their daily lives,” and was quoted as saying he “trusts the SCAF and what it has done in the past period.

The Sadat-era candidate

Mansour Hassan

Mansour Hassan was one of the most influential political figures during President Sadat’s regime, but withdrew from politics after the President’s assassination in 1981. He was appointed by SCAF in December 2011 as the head of its new Advisory Council, and he is seen as another candidate that could enjoy the support of the army’s higher echelons.

The new Egyptian Parliament

There seems to be a curious disagreement over the Egyptian elections’ final results. The sites in English that have published the numbers of seats assigned to each party differ quite significantly, and most published figures don’t add up to the 498 seats of the Egyptian Parliament’s Lower House. Discrepancies between results seem to affect the Arab written press as well, and interestingly nearly all published results attribute the greatest number of seats to the Freedom and Justice party, rather than to the coalition this party leads. The above visual representation of the new Egyptian Parliament is based on the electoral tally published by Carnegie Endowment, that appearas to be the most accurate and complete. The table that follows reports the results published by four different sources.

Parties Aswat Masriya Carnegie Endowment The Arabist Ahram
Democratic Alliance (led by Muslim Brotherhood) 235 225 235 235
Hizb Al Nour (Party of the Light – Salafis) 123 125 112 121
Wafd (Conservative Liberal Right) 38 41 38 38
Egyptian Bloc (Progressive Liberal Centre) 34 34 34 35
Reform and Development (Liberal Right/ex NDPs) 9 10 9 10
Hizb Al Wasat (offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood) 10 9 10 10
Revolution Continues (Progressive Left) 7 8 7 -
Freedom (ex NDPs) 4 3 4 5
National Egypt (ex NDPs) 4 5 5 6
Egyptian Citizens (ex NDPs) 3 4 4 -
Hizb Al Ettihad (Union Party – ex NDPs) 2 3 2 1
National Union Party (ex NDP) - - - 1
Democratic Peace Party (ex NDPs) 1 2 1 1
Egyptian Arab Union (Liberal Centrist) 1 1 1 -
Adl (Liberal Centrist) 1 2 1 1
Egyptian Democratic Socialist Party - - - 3
Conservative Party (ex NDPs) - - 1 -
Civilization Party - - - 1
Nasserite Party (Nasserist) - 1 - -
Independent Candidates 23 25 - 28
Total 480 498 464 496

The Revolutionary, the Military and the Islamist

Electoral results

Projection of the electoral results according to almasryalyoum.com

After six rough weeks that saw political parties bellowing rigging accusations to each other on the background of renewed brutal military repression of revolutionary dissent, the elections for the Lower House of the Egyptian Parliament are now over. The result is an overwhelming victory for the Islamist front, with the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis combined directly controlling around 70% of the Parliament’s seats. The liberal and revolutionary parties are left to share the remaining seats with the right wing Wafd and the plethora of new parties founded or joined by former members of Mubarak’s disbanded National Democratic Party. The Egyptian Bloc and the Revolution Continues Alliance, which at the beginning of the campaign presented themselves as the worthy opponents of moderate and hardline Islamists, scraped together respectively around 8% and around 2%.

Meanwhile, the military has burned down and dispersed the sit-ins in front of the Parliament and in Tahrir Square, killing scores of activists in the process. This video showing military officers stripping down a veiled woman and stomping on her head and chest rapidly went viral, causing widespread outrage.

The Revolutionary, the Military and the Islamist

As of now, the political scene sees three actors confronting each other: the Military Council, the Islamists, and the revolutionary protesters. The Islamist parties are getting ready to become Egypt’s next ruling force. They are keeping a low profile, careful not to oppose the protest – a move which would alienate its rank and file – but refraining from giving any significant support since their official withdrawal from Tahrir square on 19 November 2011. It is now clear they will control the first post-transitional Parliament, and possibly the Constitutional Assembly. One can imagine how they would want to take as much wind out of the protesters’ sails before taking power.

The Military Council seems to be desperately struggling to hold on to power. The only way it could hope to save some of its numerous privileges would be by making a deal with the Islamists. If the agreement between the two is still to be reached, however, it is not clear what exactly the military could offer in return at this stage. Sure enough, the deal might have been struck long ago. This would explain why the Brotherhood is so keen on siding with the military’s request of postponing the Presidential elections until after the drafting and approval of the new Constitution (a decision that, according to some, collides with the Constitutional Referendum sought and won last March by the Brotherhood itself). If the agreement has indeed already been made, however, one is left to wonder what on earth the military is hoping to obtain by continuing its policy of intimidating, convicting, beating, shooting and killing protesters. The most obvious outcome of this will be an escalation of the violence and the resulting further destabilisation of Egypt’s economy and governing institutions. Surely this is the last thing the Muslim Brotherhood would want on the eve of its first chance to prove itself as a worthy governing force.

The revolutionaries left in Tahrir are riddled with internal dissent and mutual suspicion between the various factions. Numbers are dwindling, as many seem to have decided to take a step back in order to re-organise and come up with better coordinated strategies. Moreover, some of those remaining are starting to feel used as front-line leverage by the liberal and leftist parties that seem to pay lip service to their cause while at the same time taking part in the very political process that protesters claim to be illegitimate because controlled by the military. However the protest in Tahrir might be about to flare up again, as everyone is gearing up for two important dates. On 23 January the newly elected Lower House will convene for the first time, but the protesters will want to try and stop MPs from entering the Parliament. On 25 January – a new national holiday – Egypt will celebrate the first anniversary of a Revolution that nobody in the political spectrum is quite ready to criticise openly. On this date, revolutionary protesters can probably count on the support of the battered liberal and leftist parties, which will have to start looking into ways of widening their support base to compensate for their devastatingly minoritarian position inside the Parliament.

Keep Calm and Carry On

On day nine of this second Egyptian uprising rain starts falling on the few thousand protesters left in Tahrir square. The political parties that have thrown their weight behind the protest have realised there’s not enough of them to make a boycott effective. To pull out of the elections at this point would simply mean to be left out of the constituent assembly.

It took the SCAF a while, but eventually they realised that repressing dissent was counterproductive – for as long as they kept on shooting tear gas, birdshot pellets and live ammunition on the demonstration, the number of protesters grew relentlessly. More than counterproductive, it was unnecessary. The Muslim Brotherhood had made it clear that they would not join the protest and would do anything in their power to maintain the elections on schedule. Several liberal parties also made declarations to the same effect. A pro-SCAF demonstration of several thousands was organised in order to show that people in Tahrir were not representative of the whole country, and tomorrow’s election day was extended allowing people to vote both on Monday and on Tuesday – a likely explanation for this being the SCAF’s fear of the dangers of a small turnout on the first day of elections.

So tomorrow Egyptians will go to vote in nine of the country’s twenty-seven governorates, and this put simply means the protest in Tahrir has been defeated. It also means the revolutionary and leftist political movements that froze their campaigning to give full support to the demonstrators in Tahrir are now scrambling to get back on their feet while the rest of the contenders are already running down the track.

Tahrir reloaded – part two

Critics of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) claim it has no interest in bringing about a smooth democratic transition to a full democracy that would empower the Egyptian people. Accusations directed at the military council can be grouped in three main categories: the army has continued with the violent repressive tactics employed by the former regime, it has mismanaged/exploited the issue of sectarian tensions, and it has consistently tried to control the transition process in order to shield its vested interests.

Repression of dissent

Since taking power the army has repeatedly attempted to repress the revolutionary movement. On 9 March, less than a month after Mubarak’s overthrow, the army stormed Tahrir square and violently dispersed a sit-in. There are several eyewitness accounts and evidence of the military using mass arrests and torture, as well as carrying out virginity tests on female detainees, a twisted practice whereby the authority proves women not to be virgins in order to neutralise their eventual claims to being raped. “We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place,” a senior general explained to CNN. “None of them were [virgins].” On 20 March a law is passed banning all protests, strikes and sit-ins. On 8 April the army disperses a demonstration in Tahrir square with tasers, batons, teargas and live ammunition. The list goes on. Twelve thousand civilians have been tried by military courts in the first seven months of the SCAF’s rule alone. Early on, the SCAF had promised to uphold one of the main demands of the January uprising, and drop Mubarak’s Emergency Law, which had been used to repress dissent for thirty years. The Emergency Law was set to expire in September 2011. In early September, however, the government decided to build a protection wall around the Israeli embassy in Cairo. The army stood and watched as angry protesters tore it down, ignoring strong pressure from the US to intervene. The SCAF then used the incident as a pretext to reinstate and expand the Emergency Law, broadening it to include offenses such as blocking roads and propagating misleading news.

Sectarian conflict

As well as repressing dissent, it appears the military has turned a blind eye towards episodes of sectarian clashes – when not taking active part in the violences. In early March a Coptic church in Helwan, south of Cairo, was set on fire, and rather than investigating and convicting those responsible for the act, the military sent a prominent Salafi sheikh to the area to preach coexistence. In May another church was attacked in the Cairo neighbourhood of Embaba. Egypt’s government affiliated National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) declared it held security forces largely responsible for the incident, and warned against deliberate counter-revolutionary attempts “to show that the revolution has caused the collapse of law and order“. In October, a third church was partially burnt down in the southern province of Aswan. The army and unidentified plain clothed assailants cracked down on the ensuing protest in Cairo, while State TV reported the military was under attack by Coptic protesters and called on “honourable citizens” to go and defend their soldiers.

Controlling the transition’s outcome

The third and most significant element in the SCAF’s management of this transitional period is its constant attempts to ensure itself a large degree of control over the electoral and constitutional outcomes. The Electoral Law published by the SCAF in July states that the army will nominate 10 of the lower house’s 508 MPs, and 80 of the upper house’s 270 MPs. The variable of Egyptian voters living abroad – a group of around 8 million potential voters over which the SCAF has no control – was reduced to a minimum, since as late as 3 November the Foreign Ministry was still claiming abroad voting would be impossible. The Egyptian expats’ right to vote was then granted, but only to those who would register before 19 November. On 23 November the Foreign Ministry spokesman explained expatriates will have to print their voting card off the website of the Electoral High Committee, complete it and submit it to their respective embassies no later than 26 November at 9am. Additionally, the SCAF – which yesterday declared the army will help the Ministry of Interior secure the elections –  has categorically refused to allow international election monitors, and has launched a campaign to defame Egyptian civil society organisations. Many NGOs that are planning to monitor the elections have been summoned for interrogation by the Ministry of Justice, while government institutions and state owned media have started to spread the idea that organisations that accept “foreign funding” are working with foreign agendas. A hilarious accusation if one considers that the Egyptian military has received around $1.3 billion a year for decades from the US, making it the next biggest recipient of US aid after Israel.

More importantly, SCAF seems to have been looking for a political partner that would guarantee the constitutional conservation of its numerous economic and political privileges. After all, SCAF made it very clear that the new constitution would need to give the military a special role, “some kind of insurance, so that [the army] is not under the whim of a president.” The preferred partner, initially, appeared to be the Muslim Brotherhood, as in the first months following the deposal of Hosni Mubarak the Brotherhood and the SCAF seemed to be courting each other. Brotherhood leaders seemed to tone down some of their most problematic positions, such as their call to abolish the peace treaty with Israel. Moreover, the Brotherhood’s critics accused the organisation of siding with the military rulers in their attempt to suffocate the ongoing protests, strikes and sit-ins. The Brotherhood decided not to lend its support to the demonstration that was called in response to the March anti-protest law, and when activists called for a “Second Friday of Rage” on 27 May, the Brotherhood accused protesters of attempting to brew trouble between the people and the armed forces. On its part, the SCAF formed a committee to amend the present constitution which was chaired by the prominent moderate Islamist Tariq Al Bishri and included “controversial figures associated with the Muslim Brotherhood“, in a move that according to one source made the Islamist organisation the only political force represented on the committee. Fearing an Islamist landslide victory, most political actors were asking that the new Constitution be written before the elections, and that the elections be delayed until all parties were ready to compete with the well-established Muslim Brotherhood. The military, instead, satisfied the Islamists’ requests of holding elections first and initially scheduled parliamentary elections for June 2011.

As the months went by, however, the SCAF and the Brotherhood seemed to grow apart, and the SCAF appeared to be looking to partner up with the liberal and leftist side of the political spectrum. The elections were eventually set for September (and then further postponed to November) and in July the SCAF agreed to introduce a basic set of supraconstitutional principles, in what one newspaper called “an unexpected concession to liberal and secular activists” that were asking for a safeguard against an eventual Islamist majority in Parliament. The supraconstitutional principles advocated by liberal and leftist groups were meant to guarantee the civil nature of the state and ensure the liberties of all of its citizens, but when the government published its first draft, it also slipped in a clause giving the SCAF the right to veto the composition of the Constitutional assembly. Islamists firmly rejected the proposal and threatened the SCAF by filling Tahrir with protesters. The SCAF then tried to coopt liberals and Islamists, while cutting out revolutionaries and lefties. In October a number of political parties – including the Wafd, the Democratic Front, Reform and Development, the Salafi Al Nour and the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party – signed an agreement with the SCAF, causing an uproar among the rest of the political spectrum. In exchange for a number of concessions regarding the Electoral Law, the signatory parties expressed full approval and backing for the SCAF, and agreed to change the transition timeline by consenting to have the constitution written and approved by referendum before proceeding with the Presidential elections, thereby potentially leaving the SCAF in power until April 2013. The parties also recognised the need to find an “agreement regarding the basis of the constitutional committee.” Freedom and Justice leaders were swift in stating that this meant parties would agree on some constitutional guiding principles, suggesting the door to binding supra-constitutional principles had now definitely been closed. The SCAF evidently did not see it that way. One month later, on November 1st, the government proposed a new “obligatory” document containing – again – a list of supra-constitutional principles. The proposed document was hailed by some liberal parties as a guarantee against attempts by Islamists to turn Egypt into a religious state. The document, however, also stated the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had the sole right to discuss the military budget and to legislate regarding any army-related issue. Furthermore, it gave the SCAF the power to dismiss the Constituent Assembly chosen by the Parliament and appoint a wholly new one, should the first one fail to come up with a Constitution within six months. Islamists were obviously outraged, and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the proposal, threatening a million man demonstration. Unfortunately for the SCAF, though, many liberals and leftist declared they would give their blessing to the document only if the government agreed to remove the articles about the Army’s privileges and power of interference in drafting the constitution. A deal was not reached in time, and on Friday 18 November – with only ten days left before the start of the elections – Tahrir square was filled with protesters, with a small group setting up a permanent sit-in.

On the morning of Saturday 19 the military cracked down on the remains of the protest, attempting to disperse the sit-in. The repression, however, triggered an unexpected response causing thousands of protesters to flock to the square. Police in anti-riot gear tried to deter a mounting mass of demonstrators with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition, but this only caused the protest to grow. Within 24 hours the square was filled with tens of thousands of people. Dozens of motorbikes started to shuttle to and from the front line of the clashes, taking the injured to the field hospitals that had been set up along the edges of Tahrir square, while other activists went around spraying solutions of baking soda, milk, yeast and other home made remedies in the eyes of those affected by tear gas. As the days went by, tents were set up, rubbish collected in piles and burnt, and a number of street vendors appeared all around the square selling food, water, cheap gas masks and goggles made in China. Protesters settled on one common demand: the SCAF has to step down and give way to a civilian government that can lead the transition to democracy.

Revolutionary groups fully endorse the protest, for it represents a new momentum that might allow them to avoid a catastrophic electoral defeat. The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist forces are uneasy about it. They don’t want to postpone the elections – now only three days away – but they don’t want to alienate protesters. So far they settled for not joining the demonstration while blaming the clashes on the government. The SCAF appears to have run out of options, dropping from a machiavellian figure that could set the tempo of the transition to a clumsy despot that can’t think of any solution other than violent repression. It keeps contradicting itself, issuing statements that deny the use of tear gas canisters only to hold press conferences claiming they only use tear gas imported from abroad and meeting international standards. It tries to undermine the demonstration by saying that the honest protesters in Tahrir are completely different from the un-patriotic group that is clashing with the police, but then apologises for “the deaths of martyrs from among Egypt’s loyal sons.”  Yesteday the SCAF has vowed to press on with its improbable electoral schedule and called on all “honorable citizens” to arrest anyone suspect and hand them over to the authorities. It sounds like the final desperate swing of a disoriented boxer.

Tahrir reloaded (interlude)

Clashes in and around Tahrir have been going on uninterrupted since Friday night. Security forces are making extensive use of rubber bullets, tear gas canisters and live ammunition, beating up protesters who end up isolated from the mass.

Protesters in the square show shotgun cartridges to the cameras.

CNN Ben Wedeman posts proof that some of the shotgun cartridges come from Italian weapons manufacturers.

Others post photos of tear gas canisters manufactured in the US

One source reports that the tear gas used by the Egyptian security forces was listed as a restricted substance under the Paris Convention on Chemical Warfare of 1993, and eventually was banned altogether. In the meantime, activists organise volunteers to walk around Tahrir washing the chemicals out of protesters’ eyes. Twitterers seem to agree the best home made remedy to the teargas fumes is a solution made of 95% water and 5% of baking soda. Journalist and blogger Hossam El Hamalawy, interviewed by Al Jazeera English, says activists are organising a general strike to bring down the rule of Mubarak’s generals.

And in the meantime everyone gears up for the big demonstration called for tomorrow by the Revolutionary Youth Coalition and 37 other political parties and movements.

Tahrir reloaded – part one

Last Friday Tahrir square saw one of the biggest demonstrations since the ousting of President Mubarak. People gathered in opposition to the supraconstitutional principles proposed by the transitional government, which is attempting to draft a binding charter that sets some boundaries to what will be up for debate in writing Egypt’s new Constitution. In their first draft, supraconstitutional principles included the civil nature of the state, but also granted the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) the sole right to approve legislation pertaining to the armed forces and discuss its budget. This caused an uproar from political parties across the spectrum: activists from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, the April 6 movement and other parties and organisations gathered in Tahrir square by the tens of thousands – hundreds of thousands according to some reports – protesting what they saw as the SCAF’s attempt to maintain its political and economic privileges, with a small number of activists setting up a permanent sit-in.

Late at night, security forces attempted to storm the camp, take the tents apart and disperse the protest. However they were met by an unexpected wave of solidarity with the protest, and were forced to retreat when thousands of activists rushed back to Tahrir. The square has been a battlefield for over 48 hours now. Twitter’s hashtag #Tahrir yesterday was bursting with excitement for the dawn of a new revolutionary wave. The Muslim Brotherhood asked protesters and Egyptian authorities to exercise restraint but blamed the violence on the government. The Popular Socialist Alliance called on its members to join the protest. The 25 January Revolutionary Youth Coalition demanded the dismissal of the government, a halt to military trials for civilians and the publishing of a clear timetable to hand power from the SCAF to a civilian administration, declaring it will not leave Tahrir Square unless all these demands are met. Sunday morning newspapers reported a 26 year old member of the Egyptian Current was shot dead in Alexandria, and another 23 year old protester was killed in Cairo. By Sunday night the death toll seemed to have reached several dozens. One source speaks of thousands of injured, with the numerous eye injuries and some witnesses testifying to the security forces’ apparent policy of aiming for the heads. Twitterers relate the story of Ahmed Harara, who had lost his right eye to a sniper during the protests on January 28, and who on Saturday was shot again losing his other eye.

Why has the SCAF chosen to embark in a full scale confrontation with activists in Tahrir one week before the beginning of the elections?

The military council has a lot to lose from a popular, cohese and independent parliament. Throughout Egypt’s modern history the Army has enjoyed extensive political and economic influence. In 1952 a military coup overthrew the monarchy, and the army took control of the country under the guide of Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, who established an authoritarian regime with socialist tendencies. When in the 1970s Nasser’s successor, Captain Anwar Sadat, launched a massive programme of economic liberalisation, the military allegedly benefited from the privatisation of state-run enterprises. The Army’s presence in the Egyptian economy was subsequently enhanced following the 1979 Camp David Accords, when Army factories shifted some of its production from armaments to consumer goods. Finally, Marshall Hosni Mubarak’s thirty-year-long rule cemented the Army’s role “as an engine for economic growth and development“, leading to a substantial military presence in the sectors of military industries, civilian industries, agriculture, and national infrastructure. According to a number of authors, today factories run by the Egyptian military produce a stunning range of goods spanning from bottled water and olive oil to butane gas bottles, from pipes to cars, laptops, televisions, refrigerators and metal sheeting for construction projects. The Army builds roads, runs farms producing meat and vegetables, owns hotels and large swaths of land, as well as the Sharm el Sheikh resort. The military’s vested interests, however, go beyond its powerful position in the economic sphere. As of 2010, according to one reporter , twenty-one of Egypt’s twenty-nine provincial governors were former members of the military and security services, as were the heads of institutions such as the Suez Canal Authority and several government ministries. Up to now, therefore, the Egyptian military had all the tools to maintain and expand its privileges. According to Robert Springborg, professor at the Naval Postgraduate School of Monterey, California, the Army opposed liberalisation and managed to systematically sideline “everybody in Mubarak’s government who supported it.” More importantly, though, the Army has succeeded in shielding its budget from public scrutiny, thus making it impossible for researchers (and for the Egyptian civil society) to know the precise number of people serving in the army and their salaries, and the exact extent of the army’s presence in the national economy. On 26 October 2011, General Sameh Seif El Yazal, Chairman of the Al Gomhorreya Centre for Political Studies, claimed on a televised debate that the military “only” controls 16 to 18% of the Egyptian economy (exact quote is at 36:10).

On the other hand, Joshua Stacher, political scientist at Kent State University, estimates that the Army controls somewhere between 33 and 45 percent of the national economy. Truth is, there is no way of telling for sure.

After the ousting of former President Mubarak, the army moved quickly to fill the power vacuum, promising to lead the transition to a civil government within six months. Nine months later, with the parliamentary elections scheduled to start in one week, the SCAF has not yet provided a clear timetable for that transition, while at one point suggesting it could remain in power until April 2013.

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