Farcical or just plain dramatic?

Farcical or just plain dramatic?

Amidst escalating cynicism, one of the jokes circulating in Egypt last week was that we could expect ousted president Mubarak himself to apply for the presidency. The dramatic application of his former deputy in the last half hour before the deadline followed a week full of suspense, speculation and anticipated surprises.

The final list of applicants for the position of president of Egypt includes 23 names, all of them men. Those who actually meet the criteria and will compete for the post will be announced in a few weeks by the Election Committee. Unlike most other presidential elections around the globe, not discounting previous Egyptian ones, the lead-up was a badly scripted drama full of suspense. The week was laden with rumors and dramatic events, beginning with the rumored dual nationality of one candidate’s mother, followed by the Muslim Brotherhood’s surprise introduction of one candidate and alternate, and ending with the even bigger bombshell of Mubarak’s deputy’s application.

Within three months Egypt is still looking to have its political apparatus up and running, including the production of a new constitution, and that part of the process has also not been without its share of drama. It appears that the process that started almost a month ago, to elect a 100-member committee to draft the primary guiding document of the modern nation, has been revoked an circled back all the way to square one. The administrative court has ruled the Parliament’s decisions regarding the elected committee unconstitutional. With such a delay, it is difficult to expect Egypt to have a constitution before the presidential election. Consequently, the roles and powers of any elected president are so far unclear. 

With the latest episode on the presidential front, Parliament has rushed to debate and approve a law banning ex-officials from running for top public offices. The debates have brought back memories of fixing laws for political opponents; a practice the now “ruling,” once banned Islamists know all too well.

The new law in progress might not even affect the targeted applicants, unless it is fully endorsed before the final list is announced on April 26. It is too early to tell exactly who will be still in the race by then. 

Watching the daily episodes on the Egyptian political scene, one cannot help but wonder how more theatrical it can become. Had the events of last week been part of a fictitious play, it would have been deemed too far-fetched, and in some instances it was like a badly scripted farce including an illogical string of events. Egyptians have been known to be dramatic. Years of being held captive to hundreds of television series, notorious for their excessive doses of drama, loud noise, and nigh-unbelievable sequences seem to have produced a similar flair for the dramatic in the Egyptian public, even at an extremely serious time in the history of the nation.

On television political talk shows have certainly replaced the eagerly devoured soap operas. In reality, though, it is the many millions of Egyptians who are called upon to once more take to the streets to determine Egypt’s political fate, as the show continues to exasperate their patience. Calls for massive demonstrations are out, to get the show on the road and rescue the revolution.

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