Freedom on the March

The Egyptian elections were the subject of plenty of triumphalism when they were announced earlier in the year, and now it looks as if it was all justified. Not only did the elections go ahead, but with 88.6 per cent of the vote going to the pro-American incumbent, Hosni Mubarak, all that talk about how the ‘Arab street’ is opposed to US foreign policy has been refuted once again.

14 thoughts on “Freedom on the March

  1. It would have been interesting if the Muslim Brotherhood had been allowed to participate. As they were not, it was not. Still – it is at least a first step in a country without a glorious history of elections.

  2. Yeah, indeed. 23% turnout, huh. More like ‘Arab sidewalk’ or something. And the neoliberal candidate got 7% of that. Let freedom ring.

  3. Not only did the elections go ahead, but with 88.6 per cent of the vote going to the pro-American incumbent, Hosni Mubarak, all that talk about how the ‘Arab street’ is opposed to US foreign policy has been refuted once again.

    That implies 11.4% of the vote went to the non pro-American candidate(s). Thats a pretty big move for the first poll.

  4. An Egyptian friend tells me that if it had been a free election,the real winner in a landslide,would be the Moslem Brotherhood,who were of course disbarred. As it was the media were rigourously controlled by Muhbarek,and then 3 out of 4 Egyptians didn’t vote. So much for Bush hoped for wave of democracy in the largest Arab state !

  5. “Friday night, Mamdouh Marei, the government’s handpicked head of the constitutional court who also directed the Presidential Election Commission, announced the election results in a hotel room draped with the red, white and black colors of the Egyptian flag. Speaking in classical Arabic, he intoned: “The people of this country have chosen by their will, through a direct election, a president.” Applause burst out from ruling party supporters in the hall when he read Mubarak’s vote. There was no applause for the turnout.

    Marei, who barred monitors from the polls and insisted the vote count be held behind closed doors, attributed any electoral abuses to “enthusiasm.”

    -Certainly sounds like democracy, American style.

  6. I agree that the Egyptian election, which I was initially highly skeptical about, turned out to be a step in the right direction.

    Previously Egyptian Parliamentary elections have been marred by massive vote-rigging and intimidation, the actual conduct of this election seems ot have been much less corrupt.

    In part this seems to be because Egypt’s judges – who double as Electoral commissioners assserted themselves this time.

    In six years time (or earlier if Mubarak’s health forces him to astep down), we may see a very different result – especially if the nextParliamentary elections are also run fairly.

  7. This was one very undemocratic election, but is still a step in the right direction.

    I know – this is the official line, but why exactly is it a step in the right direction? Why can’t one argue, for example, that this is a step that will only generate more cynicism and discontent?

  8. Well as I said, the judiciary stopped being a rubber stamp.

    The opposition objected, successfully, to original plans to have junior government employees monitor the polling places.

    If the next parliamentary elections are held under these conditons, even with the muslim Brotherhood banned, there’s a real possibility the government would lose.

  9. abb1,
    I think because this time they had at least a choice. As the example of the Soviet Union shows – no matter how repressive the government, give the people the idea they may have a real choice in the not too distant future and the government lackeys, realising the game is up, gradually start to think about their own future.
    Normally the only thing holding a repressive regime in power is the aura of its own indestructability – that is why the initial repression has to be strong. Once that aura broken the whole structure starts to fall away.

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