After 29 years and 120 days of Mubarak rule, Egyptians went to the polls to elect their fifth president. Egypt will embrace its fifth president since 1953, that is to say in 59 years the country has seen only four leaders, not counting Sufi Abu Talep, whose presidency lasted only eight days from Sadat’s assassination to Mubarak’s coming to power, or “acting president,” Hussain Tantawi, who took over after Mubarak was overthrown.
What’s interesting about the 2012 Egyptian presidential election is that this is the first election held without a “fixed outcome.” Not knowing who will win the elections has become more interesting than finally having a civilian as a president. That the election predictions are being analyzed around at most three – even two – names seems to have caused enough confusion. How could it not? To summarize a Wikipedia account of the last thirty years:
A referendum on Hosni Mubarak’s candidacy for president was held in Egypt on Oct. 13, 1981, following the assassination of President Anwar Sadat on Oct. 6. Mubarak won 98.5 percent of the vote, with an 81.1 percent turnout. Another referendum was held in Egypt on Oct. 5, 1987. His candidacy was approved by 97.1 percent of votes cast, with an 88.5 percent turnout. In 1993 Mubarak’s candidacy for a third consecutive six-year term was approved by 96.3 percent of voters, with a turnout of 84.2 percent. In 1999, Mubarak was approved by 93.8 percent, with voter turnout reported to be 79.2 percent. He won a fourth consecutive six-year term in office.
The last presidential elections in Egypt took place in 2005. The 2005 presidential elections were allegedly the first contested elections in Egypt’s history. Mubarak won a fifth consecutive six-year term in office, with official results showing he won 88.6 percent of the vote while total voter turnout remained at 22 percent. Mubarak’s “victory at the polls” was evaluated by the United States as follows:
“Egypt’s presidential election represents one step in the march towards the full democracy that the Egyptian people desire and deserve,” former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared in a statement. She even went further and claimed that “the process that culminated in the Sep. 7 vote was characterized by free debate, increased transparency and improved access to the media, in contrast with previous polls. The practice of universal suffrage in Egypt, without limitations on gender and ethnicity, is a hopeful sign for the region.”
Considering the U.S. reaction to the 2005 presidential elections in Egypt, it would not be wrong to say that the 2012 presidential elections would be evaluated with the same “political consistency!” At the end of the first tour, if Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and Mohamed Morsy are the two candidates that move onto the second tour, we hope that the legitimacy of the process through which the new actors of the new Middle East and Egypt were elected will be talked about more than who was elected. In fact, the West, liberals, and the Egyptian tutelage system are already showing the symptoms of the “2006 Hamas syndrome!”