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Message Icon Topic: Imagine! So Many Voted in Egypt Post Reply Post New Topic
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Whisper
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Quote Whisper Replybullet Topic: Imagine! So Many Voted in Egypt
    Posted: 10 September 2005 at 10:09am

Carry on up the Nile
Leader
Saturday September 10, 2005
The Guardian

No one in the Middle East need hold their breath in anticipation of the final outcome of this week's Egyptian presidential election. Partial results reported by the (tightly controlled) official media yesterday suggested President Hosni Mubarak has taken some 80% of the vote, easily seeing off all nine of his rivals. Not bad for a man of 77 seeking a fifth term 24 years since he came to power. Still, the reported turnout of just 30% suggests widespread apathy - even though this was the first time other candidates had ever been allowed to stand.

 

Mr Mubarak's slick campaign kept the former air force pilot in soft-focus, avuncular mode, sipping tea while chatting to peasants on the banks of the Nile. But this could not hide flaws including vastly unequal resources and campaigning time as well as intimidation and ballot-stuffing. Foreign monitors were rejected as an affront to Egyptian sovereignty.

Yet this was a landmark election not because it offered genuine choice now but because, by replacing the system of a referendum for one candidate, it showed in a partial, caricatured way what a real multiparty contest could be like, raising expectations for the future. Ayman Nour, courageous leader of the Al-Ghad (Tomorrow) party, was able to voice criticism of unemployment, corruption, emergency laws, human rights abuses and a notoriously unresponsive bureaucracy. It has to be said that this would not have happened without US pressure on its closest Arab ally (and recipient of $1.8bn in annual aid) to flesh out George Bush's vision of a wave of democratic reform rippling out from post-Ba'athist Baghdad. It was also easier than trying to demonstrate progress in Saudi Arabia.

In the short term, the election will make little difference. It failed to even address two big questions. The first is that of the succession to Mr Mubarak, who in dynastic style that the ancient pharaohs would have recognised, has been grooming his son Gamal to take over from him. The other is what role there will be for Islamist parties. The Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest and oldest opposition movement, remains banned and unable to participate in legal politics. Until it can, true multi-party democracy will not exist.

The thing to watch is whether the Mubarak regime will seek to muzzle now emboldened opposition parties or whether they will be able freely to contest parliamentary elections in November. If they are then the Arab world's most populous country may yet see real change. America, Britain and Europe, have every interest in ensuring it does.
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Quote nico Replybullet Posted: 10 September 2005 at 1:38pm

Egypt is a nation which is a nation with a rotten core; the population of Egypt like much of the Middle East are sick and tired of wasta or corruption and waste. In Egypt in order to get a good job you need to know someone and/or have to pay someone to give you the job. Egypt is a nation, whose economy is well below potential, and its exports mainly centre on oil and gas of which it has little of, other exports are low on the VAT scale. Egypt maintains a current account surplus largely because it receives large amounts of remittances from abroad to support the population within the country. Politically the establishment gives in a little to the Islamists to keep things quiet, but still outright bans the Brotherhood. One of the fears of the West about democratic elections in the Arab world is the fear of Islamists govts coming into power, but at first they may seem dangerous to western interests, if they reside in a true democracy they will eventually heed to greater calls about ills at home, and they realize that in order to even have an economy they will need western capital, and aid. So Islamists calls should moderate greatly, and then the more extreme Islamists like the Al Qs would fight against the moderate Islamist govt and then chances are likely that the aura of Political Islam will dissipate.

 

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Quote b95000 Replybullet Posted: 12 September 2005 at 12:32am
Interesting thoughts - I agree that economic laws will be very important in the so-called War on Terror...when people are happy and content, they are much less likely to support a terroristic notion..that said there are many wealthier terrorist also...so there is a more complicated picture than just poverty.
Bruce
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Quote Whisper Replybullet Posted: 18 September 2005 at 3:32pm

so there is a more complicated picture than just poverty.

The day poor pathetic trigger happy Amreekis oil suckers could figure that out, they won't have to keep crying for their security.

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