What’s at stake after the presidential runoff?

In a few days, Egypt will officially have a new president. As it stands, the unofficial vote count indicates that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy has won the presidency with a mere 51 percent of votes. This tight competition between Morsy and Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, shows the frustration of the Egyptian electorate who had to choose between these two candidates.

The runoff took place in a highly turbulent political atmosphere, entangled with legal disputes. Shafiq, a statesman who represents the former regime, was allowed to remain in the presidential election only a couple of days ago after the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) stated that the Political Isolation Law was unconstitutional. Morsy, on the other hand, represents the Brotherhood, which seized the majority in a parliament that was ordered dissolved by the same court on the same day.

After the SCC’s ruling to dissolve Parliament, Morsy and the Brotherhood, who are accused of undermining the revolution by entering into negotiations with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, are facing a new challenge. Amid yesterday’s preoccupation with the runoff, the SCAF amended the Constitutional Declaration to limit the powers of the president, while expanding the military’s authority, particularly vis-à-vis the writing of the constitution. The SCAF’s latest amendments to the Constitutional Declaration should draw our attention to the fact that the more critical issue now is whether the junta truly intends to hand over power, rather than the identity of the new president.

In addition to the latest Constitutional Declaration amendments, the SCAF’s decision to grant military police and military intelligence officers the powers of judicial execution — which allows them to stop civilians, detain them and refer them for investigations — and the dissolution of Parliament, which restored legislative powers to the SCAF, suggest the junta will maintain its presence at the heart of authority and the decision-making process.

It is thus wrong to assume that the situation will settle once a new president steps into the shoes of the former, whose regime still stands, thinking that the public will wait patiently as the president achieves their dreams of freedom and justice.

The conclusion of the presidential elections will pit three institutions — the presidency, the coming parliament and the SCAF — against the dreams and ambitions of Egyptians. The power struggle over the past months, the performance of both the SCAF and Parliament, and the ouster of so-called revolutionary candidates from the presidential race demonstrate that the contradictions between the three institutions will only be minor.

All the previous factors point out that those in positions of power will turn their backs on the goals of the revolution and get busy dividing power and writing the constitution.

While some may see this as a democratic battle that we should engage in to press for concessions, this logic could lead to a repetition of the revolutionary camp’s mistakes since the revolution broke out.

The revolutionary forces have no option but to continue their struggle to achieve the goals of the revolution, though without unreasonably counting on any state institutions holding a bias in their favor or surrendering to threats of repression and monopoly of power.

Revolutionaries should formulate a vision for the stage that follows the election of a president. This vision should be primarily concerned with connecting the revolutionary camp to the public by emphasizing the ties between the achievement of the goals of the people and those of the revolution.

This is possible if the revolutionaries provide practical plans that prioritize the social and economic demands of the people and link them to the political and democratic goals of the revolution.

The revolutionaries should work to recruit the more organized groups in society, such as workers, employees and students, who have expressed their readiness to join the ranks of the revolutionaries but did not find a political umbrella that would encompass them.

The revolutionaries should also put down roots across Egypt by reviving the idea of popular committees which defend the rights of citizens or consumer cooperatives that would offset counterrevolutionary powers.

However, this front will remain weak unless all blocs who wish for the revolution to emerge victorious join and formulate a clear political agenda addressed to the people. This front should learn from the mistakes of other blocs, such as the 25 January Revolution Youth Coalition and other experiments which were elitist, incoherent and thirsty for immature gains.

What remains of the revolution are its resolute supporters who have yet to taste victory and its pioneers who are ready to lay down their lives to free Egypt from the grip of tyrants. There is still a need for a revolutionary project to mobilize the public to achieve victory for the revolution.

Translated by Dina Zafer.

Related Articles

Back to top button