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HALA ELKHOLY > Race for the Egyptian Presidency begins

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The official race for the President of Egypt begins Saturday, among speculation about who has been approved by the ruling Military Council and who has the support of the Freedom and Justice party.

After decades of having no choice, Egyptians have so far been entertained by an amazing number of possible candidates. Saturday marks the start of official application for the position, in an anticipated critical month up to the release of the final list of candidates. In parallel, Egypt should be getting itself a new constitution. Many are hopeful that the constitution might even be ready before the start of the presidential elections. The two critical additions to the political structure are the last resort of many, in order to recreate a balance of power and provide Egypt with a strong and all inclusive foundation that would ensure the stability of the country in the aftermath of the scheduled handing over of power from the temporary Military council by the end of June.

Interestingly, attempts to create a basic consensus on both processes divert from the earlier practices of competition and disagreement. The liberal parties and clusters have realized they will need to consolidate to affect the either result and a few are negotiating mergers. A more seasoned approach for uniting the votes will provide Egyptians with a different taste of participation in decision making.

Building consensus amongst the political players will be one way to steer the ballots towards one or possibly two candidates for president. Whether agreement to publically support one candidate leans more towards a conspiracy to control the voting results or an attempt to create a balanced political choice will depend much on who and how it is done. Nevertheless, Egyptians will still have their say in the third wave of elections since the revolution. The results may not be that predictable. 

Meanwhile, the saga of the NGOs on trial continues to unfold in the media, amidst an angry Judiciary and unclear and contradictory responses from the Government, the ruling Military council and Parliament. It would seem to be yet another distraction, much like the never explained recurrent bloody confrontations that commanded scenes in Cairo last year. Although Egyptians remain emotional and frustrated, they have been changed by more than a year of revolution. So far the official process has not only been questionable and slow, but it has also reinstituted the traditional relationship of distrust in leadership.

In reality, as politicians struggle to affect the outcome of the leadership and ruling scenarios, ordinary Egyptians struggle to maintain their hopes in substantial changes to their way of life and prosperity. The gap between both is increasingly being filled by an array of civil society initiatives that is young, robust and growing. The degree to which the political elite will connect with the population to rebuild the necessary trust paths will be important in the pace and quality of social and economic change Egypt experiences in the years to come. Egypt is changing.

March/10/2012

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Sue Coon

3/10/2012 3:50:22 PM

What is happening in Egypt is so important. It seems to have been hardest on the working class who just want to make a living. As an American I wish them well even tho, they seem to hate everything about us, except our tourist dollar.
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