Preliminary results from the Presidential elections are being announced from governorates around Egypt. They are, needless to say, less than what was expected. [For information on the leading contenders please click here.]
Results in Hurghada indicate that Commander Ahmed Shafiq stood in the lead, after 54,013 votes were cast, and of those 53,446 considered valid. Shafiq led the pack with 13,819 votes, followed by Hamdeen Sabahy 13,471 votes, and then Abu Fotouh 9078 votes, and Amr Moussa, 8039 votes, and Mohamed Morsi 8033 votes. A shocking twist for the revolutionaries to see the former PM of Mubarak's regime taking the lead. Is this an indication that the votes may have been rigged? Better yet, is this indicative of Egyptians having grown weary of the continued conflicts and uncertainty that reign supreme at this time, longing for the 'peaceful' days of the Mubarak regime. Mubarak's last words, "you'll regret this Egypt," seem to ring true!
Sohag's results are no different. Initial indications show Morsi in the lead with 202,554 votes, to Shafiq's 177,418.
This means that the potential run-off could be between former PM Shafiq, and the MB's candidate Morsi. For someone observing on the outside, all I can wonder is how was this allowed to happen. Shafiq's nomination would certainly appease the Western powers eagerly watching to see the power-struggle unfold in Egypt, yet for Morsi to take the presidency can be nothing more than a huge step backwards. Politicians will again busy themselves with talks of banning bikini's and / or sale of alcohol while subverting the primary issues of importance in Egypt at the moment: the economy, unemployment, and rebuilding a devastated infrastructure.
A New York Times article published today discusses the possibility of a run-off between both candidates. In speaking to Commander Shafiq's spokesman, Ahmed Sarhan, when asked about what could have appealed about Shafiq to the Egyptian voters he said it was because he'd "promised to save Egypt from the dark forces," in an apparent reference to the MB and the Islamists.
"Mr. Shafik would bring back security, Mr. Sarhan said. “The revolution has ended,” he said. “It is one and a half years.” The other former front-runner who fell behind Mr. Shafik was Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a dissident former Brotherhood leader campaigning as both an Islamist and a liberal. He explicitly challenged the Brotherhood’s authority to speak as the voice of political Islam. His iconoclastic campaign promised to upend the old culture-war dichotomies of Egyptian and Arab politics, and it caught fire among an unlikely alliance of Brotherhood youth, ultraconservative Islamists known as salafis, and more secular minded leftists and liberals," the NYT article noted.
As an interesting sidenote, the NYT article points out "As the votes were counted Friday morning, some liberals and leftists ruefully observed that, taken together, Mr. Aboul Fotouh and Mr. Sabahi attracted more votes than Mr. Shafik or Mr. Mursi. Neither, however, will enter the runoff."
That provides little comfort for those watching the votes being tallied. The next few weeks in Egypt will be a very telling time.