While witnessing the transitions which plagued the Arab world with the coveted disease of ‘revolutionary changes’, Egypt managed to topple down the 30 year old regime of the mighty Muhammad Hosni El Sayed Mubarak. The longest-serving ruler had to descend down from his throne as the chorus which demanded for a ‘change’ in the political set up of the country continued to burgeon up at Tahrir square. There are so many people who claim that the protests and demonstrations that erupted in Cairo were not led by anyone. Social media is often labelled as the leader of this revolution which ultimately ousted the stalwart dictator after 18 days of turmoil at the beginning of 2011. Not only this, but headlines which an Egyptian couldn’t have gone through during his/her wildest dreams grabbed ample space on the front pages of most of the newspapers -dictator behind the bars. Murder and corruption trial of the former Egyptian President was something next to impossible. .
These rapid fluctuations paved the way for elections in Egypt. 2012 serves a completely different political atmosphere for the once oppressed Egyptians. By far this chunk of Middle East is the biggest prize for democracy in the Arab world and will continue to be, but to what extent in the favour of those who gave the payment? The military, having allowed the people to choose their representatives by the end of 2011 has taken the credit of Egypt’s historic elections by stepping out of the way itself after keeping a lot of privileges though. The recent polls in Egypt apart from being ‘historic’ provided a pleasant respite to the protesters as they were now the voters and didn’t have to participate in never-ending rallies, give interviews and adverts. The country had voted before, but those were just deceptive designs to give Mubarak’s regime a veil of democratic legitimacy, even though it was an open secret that the numbers reflected the support the president thought he needed rather than the support he had; hence the frequent 90%-plus winning percentages Mubarak’s officials would announce to a population that knew what to expect.
Elections saga is at an entirely different dimension followed by frenzy and fervent voters who now have a considerable choice of 13 candidates. There are three names out of the 13 candidates that are consistently ahead of the pack: the Muslim Brotherhood‘s Mohammed Mursi, the secular Amr Moussa and the enigmatic Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh. Consequently, there is a stiff competition between the Hosni Mubarak-era figures and the Islamists (neither of them were the heroes of the young, liberal and technocratic Egyptians who are the original revolutionaries of Egypt). The worst form of injustice that could be done to the tweets from the Tahrir square would be to put the voters in a situation where they have no other choice then to vote for the Islamist fundamentalists or the remains of Mubarak. Admit it or not the Arab spring which ignited the Arab world like fire is getting extinguished at Egypt and that too in a very neat manner. The revolutionaries fought for their right to self-determination, but before they could have managed to reach the ladder of appointing their own government, the spring had been hijacked!
Originally published in Jahangir World Times Magazine- June 2012