The pre-determined outcome of Egypt’s elections
“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 the ‘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.”
The above lines were written exactly two years ago, right before the elections in which Mohamed Morsi was elected president in Egypt. The elections Morsi won had been, in effect, held between “the felool and the new establishment.” The elections that took place in Egypt this week, on the other hand, has clearly been held between “the felool and the old establishment.” What became exceedingly clear in the elections was that Abdel Fattah el-Sisi could not pull off a semblance of elections, not even fixed ones like Mubarak had done. Despite the participation rates shared by the junta, those who have been in the field, following the elections, report that the voter turnout did not even reach the low 20 percent it had been during the Mubarak rule.
There is nothing to be hopeful about an election that was produced by a coup d’état orchestrated with the political support provided by the United States, financing by the Gulf, violence by the Baltajis and legitimacy from liberal discourse. Hamdeen Sabahi – who had applauded the ousting of an elected government by the military in 2012 and who supported el-Sisi’s candidacy at the presidential poll – was the token candidate on the ticket to give the elections, which will only bring more confusion and chaos, a semblance of legitimacy. At this juncture in Egypt, el-Sisi’s presidency, which in hindsight seems to have been the only motivation for the coup, is no more meaningful than Bashar al-Assad winning elections in Syria.
The futile struggle to hold on to the old order of the Middle East that began its de facto collapse with the Arab uprisings can only be sustained for so long. It has become impossible for the old order, running on fumes, to function any longer. The only thing that will be left of the Camp David order pretty soon will be chaos. El-Sisi’s coup, al-Assad’s massacres, and North Africa’s “transition” pains are not long-term structural wins for the “old order.” They are only the short-term conjectural gains of a long haul. This can clearly be evinced from the fact that the power of the undercurrents on Arab streets is tangibly visible even during a cursory field research.
Similarly, it doesn’t seem possible for those interpreting the events of the last four years through the lenses of the 1970s and 1980s, as a problem of political Islam to comprehend what is really going on.
Thus, they see no other choice than appealing to el-Sisi against the potential energy gathering in reaction to the old Middle Eastern order still running on World War I-era balances and against society’s fundamental changes they cannot seem to prevent. The problem we are facing now is not about what the new order is going to look like, but rather when it will become reality. At this point, the only problem the old order can cause is timing.