The presidential race: A game of Egyptian roulette

Before going to bed, I decided I was going to write an article on the presidential election first thing in the morning. I closed my eyes and before falling into a deep sleep I wondered if there was any use to add to the unbearably noisy pool of voices debating the elections.

A group of huge, dark and hairy mountain rats with glittering eyes invaded my house like locusts. Only minutes later, a new group of rats came pouring into the house from every window and all balconies, moving as if following the orders of some remote leader. I was thrown into a panic as I watched them move like trained dogs in a Russian circus. I realized they were indeed moving according to a plan to occupy the entire house. I tried to reach my office room but a number of these rats were able to stop me from getting near the door. Suddenly, I remembered that my daughter is sleeping in the other room, so I ran to her — only to find that a group of rats had devoured her bare arms. With that horrible scene, I woke up.

Many of those belonging to the revolutionary and civilian forces feel that the upcoming presidential election is nothing more than an unavoidable dark nightmare. The revolutionary camps oscillate between positive and negative boycott, the former through invalidating their votes in the polling station.  Other pro-revolution groups support the idea of ​​voting for one of the candidates vowing to establish a country that upholds the law and safeguards human rights, freedom and social justice for its citizens — in other words, one of those candidates who has no chance of winning in this elections.

The reasoning behind these choices is influenced by the sad reality that everything leading up to these elections was characterized by stupidity, cruelty, corruption, illegitimacy and the domination of capital, as well as the fact that the results will be influenced by illegal financing of the electoral campaigns. Elections are usually an anti-revolutionary measure, a process that aborts revolutions by imposing a system — under the pretext of democracy — based on the domination of capital.

Who can succeed in this farce called elections without pumping tens of millions of Egyptian pounds into them? No one knows the exact amount of money being spent on the electoral campaigns or the sources of these funds. Who really has the money to provide these astronomical figures?

The answer is the conservative forces that are opposed to any change and, in the case of Egypt, these could be divided into two groups: the businessmen loyal to the Mubarak regime, who benefited from his economic policies and who are opposed to any “revolutionary” change that could damage their financial and economic interests and the backward businessmen involved in the petrodollar system who support a seriously reactionary political power.

For the secularists, these elections are like a game of Russian roulette. In the Egyptian presidential elections the pistol will contain four bullets, namely Mohamed Morsy, Ahmed Shafiq, Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh and Amr Moussa. These are the presidential candidates who have received funding for their campaigns, and whose posters can be found everywhere. Their chances of reaching the Egyptians wishing to play Russian roulette [the voters] are reinforced by the sugar, flour, potato and liquefied petroleum gas cylinder handouts that serve as bribes.

For purely psychological reasons, some have sought to beautify the Amr Moussa and the Abouel Fotouh choices by tinting them in attractive colors. The supporters of these two candidates are exerting great efforts to persuade themselves that this cosmetic beautification of their candidates’ images would change the fact that they are both lethal choices.

The bullets — aka candidates — are different, but they all belong to a conservative camp opposed to change. Mohamed Morsy and Abouel Fotouh are opposed to the civil camp that advocates human rights, while Shafiq and Moussa belong to a camp opposed to the values of social justice.

Oddly enough, two of those candidates have been able to penetrate the civil front. Abouel Fotouh, for one, presents an ambiguous platform. He has also been able to spread the idea that he belongs to the revolutionary camp and everyone has started echoing this, despite the fact that his regressive project goes against any revolution in history. In addition, Abouel Fotouh has not given a single statement that upholds his defense of citizenship and equality as understood by the civil groups. 

There are several examples to prove that he avoids clear-cut positions. One such example is when he was asked about the freedom of creed and acknowledged the right of a Muslim to change his religion, but added that the convert would have to be “asked to repent for this for the rest of his life.” Researcher Abeer Abbas wrote that Abouel Fotouh has failed to say how a Muslim convert would be asked to repent, and who would have to force him to do it and how often? She also wondered if the person in charge of this process should be a scholar or a soldier, how the entire process would be financed or what its legal nature would be. She ended by mockingly wondering if Abouel Fotouh was not aware that we were living in a state rather than in a tribal society.

Like a chameleon, Abouel Fotouh has presented himself in different colors. For those who do not know, the chameleon is a wild reptile that could eat up practically anything that enters its mouth. External factors, such as light, temperature and mood cause chameleons to change color.

The second candidate who has the support of some civil groups is Amr Moussa, who is a typical Egyptian civil servant. Nurtured to become an Egyptian technocrat, Moussa is like water — colorless, tasteless and odorless. He too was able to penetrate the civil camp. Some liberal powers support his candidacy because he is an old man who would not want to run for a second presidential term and who is believed to have no financial or political ambitions. He is thought to be the perfect pick for the transitional period.

Shafiq and Morsy, meanwhile, are blatant opponents to revolutionary and civil powers. The first belongs to the army, while the other to the Brotherhood. The first promotes a police state and the second a religious one. The first belongs to the era of the Mamluks, while the other belongs to the time of the collapse of the Abbasid State.

On Twitter, poet Amin Haddad once wrote, “May God protect you from hardships, son, and not have Shafiq rule over you!” He also wrote, “Listen to Hady Khashaba, the soccer king of penalty kicks, and choose Mohamed Morsy to be the shadow of a president.”

Hundreds of millions were spent on these electoral campaigns, and the media machine has been working to make the Egyptians feel that they are going through a historic experience. They promoted the idea that this presidential election is the outstanding result of the Egyptian revolution and that the people now have a say.

The truth is, this election is worthless, for it is being conducted in a society that lacks a healthy political life, one that lacks genuine parties and political powers. This election will bring a useless president who will be unable to change the structure of the old regime.

Hope lies in the revolutionary and social mobility. Change will come from the bottom, at the hands of the hundreds of movements, coalitions and blocs that emit hope. It is this that will change the face of Egypt.

Khaled Al Khamissi is an Egyptian writer.

Translated by Dina Zafer

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