Egypt: The 12 million losers!

By Ali Ibrahim
Al Arabiya News
27 June 2012

Simply following the comments of activists and observers on social networking websites during the press conference held by the head of Egypt’s electoral commission, Farouk Sultan, who was forced by law to issue a lengthy legal preamble before the election result was announced, was fun in itself. These activists, in their nervous state, posted various comments claiming that Sultan’s narrative or use of certain words meant that Shafiq would be declared the winner, only to return later to post other comments claiming that the indications now suggested that Mursi would be declared victorious! Some comments accused the head of the electoral commission of being sadistic, because he did not immediately announce the election result but instead left everyone on the edge of their seats as he reviewed the work of the electoral commission and the difficult conditions it operated under.

Despite a flood of conspiracy theories, claims of voter fraud, and talk about secret understandings being reached behind closed doors, no one was sure of the name of the winning candidate until Farouk Sultan announced that Mohammed Mursi had won ahead of Ahmed Shafiq. Hence a new chapter in post-25 January Egypt has begun, and the challenges of this stage are no less difficult than the previous transitional period, which lasted for around 16 months and was full of turmoil.

There was a winner and a loser, each with a large support base who voted for them, and neither can cancel the other out. The end result was decided by a difference of less than 3 percent, or about 900 thousand votes out of a total of roughly 26 million according to the commission’s figures, including more than 800 thousand invalid votes. In the end, everyone must accept the outcome of the ballot box even if the difference is so small.

There are several implications to such a small difference in the votes cast for Mursi and Shafiq, most importantly nobody can say they have an absolute popular mandate. Secondly, there seems to be an almost fifty percent split along societal divisions in the Egyptian electorate’s voting.

It was a good sign that the losing candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, sent a personal note congratulating his rival and wishing him well following the announcement of the election results. Perhaps Obama’s advice to the losing candidate, namely do not withdraw from political work but benefit from the experience, will serve Shafiq well, especially considering that he was able to win so many votes. It was also a good sign that in his first statement, president-elect Mursi confirmed that he would be a president for all Egyptians, referring to all the governorates, even those that did not vote for him, especially in the Nile Delta. If we want to lay the foundations for a continual democratic experience then we must establish a tradition of the loser accepting defeat and the winner reassuring those who did not vote for him, so that no election will lead to blood and violence, as some expected, or fiery and antagonistic statements in the countdown to the electoral commission’s announcement.

The reality that should be in the minds of the political players on the Egyptian scene today is that 13.2 million Egyptians voted for Mursi and won, whilst 12.3 million voted for Shafiq and lost. However, the concerns and views of the “losers” must be part of the new equation if we want to continue to move forwards, especially since there is a widespread belief that several million voted for a certain candidate purely because they hated his rival and had no other options.

The final two candidates who appeared in the Egyptian presidential run-off election, was a surprise in itself, and came contrary to the expectations of most analysts. No one expected Mursi or Shafiq to be victorious in the weeks and days leading up to the first round of elections, as other candidates were viewed as being frontrunners. However, it seemed that the public had a different opinion.

(The writer is Asharq Alawsat’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief. The article was published in the London-based daily on June 26, 2012)

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 - 10:18 pm

    I believe the Egyptian elections are fairer and cleaner than our forthcoming GE13.

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 - 11:21 pm

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 28 June 2012 - 1:08 am

    Egyptian election results were close. The loser Shafiq conceded defeat graciously and congratulated winner Morsi. Our GE13 is also expected to be close. However if BN were to lose (closely) – to urge and expect it to follow Shafiq’s – and by extension his patron the Egyptian Armed Forces (“SCAF”)’s graceful stand down in deference to majority’s democratic vote via the ballot box is triumph of hope over logic/reality. The differences between ours and Egyptian situation are patent and stark! In Egypt, this election was after change of Mubarak’s unpopular regime, defeated not just by people’s power in Tahrir Square’s but (I suspect) SCAF’s non support of Mubarak (probably influenced by the Americans). Besides even if Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi got elected president – so what if he were puppet or has to play puppet to the all powerful SCAF? Before the election SCAF already pushed through constitutional amendments entrenching its power to lay down the laws, draw up the budget, have say on extent of the president’s powers and, presumably, new rules for fresh elections to parliament. There’s no skin on SCAF’s nominee (Shafiq)’s part to play gracious when SCAF retains indirectly all levers of control. Our situation is not parallel at all with that of Egypt for any attempt to apply their analogy of seemingly ‘civil’ peaceful and ‘democratic transition here!

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 28 June 2012 - 1:24 am

    Proof of President Elect Morsi’s deference for the Army and reliance on its patronage (without which he can’t even be president (people power or no people power) is shown by this – Before election Morsi was criticizing Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (“SCAF”) of mismanaging the country during the transitional period. After (being declared winner) the first order of business was to meet with SCAF’s chairman Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi & gang to get their endorsement for his cabinet and to publicly praise SCAF for its wise leadership of the country during the interim period, for protecting & respecting the free will of Egyptians etc (more like appreciating its letting him be president), a sharp departure from his criticisms before. A typical politician, language before the win differs from that after!

  5. #5 by undertaker888 on Thursday, 28 June 2012 - 8:08 am

    Are there any postal votes there like in bolehland? They should learn a thing or two from bolehland.

    Postal votes.
    Stay 100m away for election observers.
    The dead can vote. Should set the election date during chIng Ming month. More dead people can come out to vote.

You must be logged in to post a comment.