The race is on in Egypt
The race is on in Egypt. The last three weeks of a nine-month roller coaster revolution are expected to be rough. Regardless of the many speculations and guesstimates of the make-up of the upcoming temporary parliament, the one thing all eyes are on is the silent majority. Will 40 million Egyptians go out and vote for what they want? That alone will be the one major sign of the success of the revolution. It is the coming out of the voting population that will determine the outcome of the revolution so far. Should the Egyptians pour out to cast their votes, the revolution might be en-route to evolution. So far, Egyptians have yet to experience truly free elections. The one trial in the March referendum, if at all an indication, attracted around 20 million. Much has happened since.
To many the roller coaster seems to be accelerating as the countdown began Tuesday. Scheduled for Nov. 28, a new and complicated voting process is anxiously anticipated. Daily indications of the state of anxiety should subside temporarily for a few days with the onset of Eid al-Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice) Sunday. The traditional family celebrations might be slightly different this year as the countdown to one decisive election approaches. In the absence of real data or trustworthy polls, indications of what kind of parliament are quite speculative. There seems to be a clear polarized spectrum between the Islamic groups and the liberal groups. The final lists of candidates should just be out and many have begun their campaigns. By next week, one expects to see the country swarmed with big white banners with names and symbols and typically the telling pictures of so many candidates.
Unfortunately, many are finding it difficult to focus their whole attention on these critical elections as they continue to be distracted by the eruption of daily attractions. The latest in a string of disturbing events has been the government proposal of a new version of a pre-constitutional agreement. The polarized political scene saw yet another re-shift as big and small parties and groups stood against or for the proposal. The hottest topic in town, this one changed the mood overnight as the Islamic groups denounced it and together with some strong liberals threatened a massive demonstration on Friday, Nov. 18. Interestingly, the most controversial item of debate is the relationship of the armed forces to the leadership structure.
There have been mounting concerns on the role of the military council so far, and its intention to actually relinquish its power to a civilian elected leadership. The council has been getting more heat since the Maspero events, and there are serious questions as to its exact role in this revolution. The council meanwhile continues to declare its support for the revolution and its intention to hand over power. As the race proceeds, maybe more of the real issues at the heart of this unfolding revolution will surface. One thing is for sure: The next few weeks will be quite revealing as to how the power will be shared in Egypt.