Thursday, June 21, 2012

Round Two: A Quick Look at the Presidential Run-Off

            Just when the pace of events in Egypt appears to be slowing down, it speeds up again.  It’s been four days since the second round of the presidential election but the outcome has not been officially announced and it’s already fading into the distant past.  As things stand it appears that Muhammad Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, won the election with 52 percent of the votes cast.  The official results have not yet been announced by the Presidential Election Commission and there is concern about what its announcement will be.  Some wags have predicted that it will announce that former Prime Minister and Air Force General Ahmad Shafiq won with 90 percent of the vote.

            The Muslim Brothers, among others, have published figures based on the vote tallies at the governorate and district level where they were allowed to see the results.   So has the Ahram newspaper which I have used for writing this entry. The Carter Center has voiced reservations about the political context within which the election occurred but less so about its mechanics:

“These provisions helped to instil confidence in the final results by ensuring that agents had verifiable information regarding electoral results in their jurisdictions. In addition, Carter Center witnesses reported improved access to District General Committees, although domestic witnesses continued to face obstacles to meaningful observation there.  However, given the fact that there is no outside access to the final aggregation of results, it is essential that the PEC publish vote results broken down to the polling station level at the earliest possible instance on their website. In meetings with The Carter Center, the PEC has committed to do so within one week of the election.”

            Without more, lower-level results than we have and adequate complementary demographic statistics it is no more possible to understand what the presidential vote means than it was with the parliamentary vote.  We can guess about the transition from the first to the second round with some level of confidence. Generally speaking it seems plausible that Shafiq picked up Amr Moussa’s voters from the first round and that Morsi picked up some combination of votes from Abu al-Futouh and Hamdeen Sabbahi.  About 10 % more people voted in the run-off than in the first round but Morsi could not have picked up both Abu al-Futouh’s voters and Sabbahi’s or he would have won more decisively than he seems to have.   

For the moment the best I can think of to do is to look at briefly at some of the districts where Shafiq and Morsi won and compare those to the inaccurate impressions one has of the districts.  There were some surprises.  Without time to make an adequate assessment of instant and popular analyses, my sense is that most people think that, in general, Christians, the well-off, touristic areas, and those  who live in particular strongholds of the old regime voted for Shafiq whereas the lower middle class, the poor, and the devout Muslims voted for Mursi.   This is itself a reflection of a set of images long beloved in Egypt (and elsewhere) about the relationship of class to nationalism refracted through voting patterns.  The poor and the working class are most committed to revolution and patriotism the argument goes.  Unfortunately as generations of communists and nationalists painfully discovered, it ain’t necessarily so.

            Shafiq won a majority of the votes in Cairo (the city is the governorate) or 1.89 million out of 3.4 million cast.  As might be expected he did well in Shubra, Madinat Nasr, Ain Shams, and the silk-stocking neighborhood of Qasr al-Nil.  More surprisingly he also strongly carried the poorer neighborhoods of Darb al-Ahmar, El-Zawiya el-Hamra, and Sayyida Zainab.   El-Zawiya Al-Hamra returned parliamentary representatives from the MB as did much of the rest of Cairo.  So Shafiq’s victory in these districts is indicative of some change.  Economic distress is one possibility but another is that other patterns of religious mobilization among the Muslim population are beginning to occur which could include both Sufi orders or simply political choices reflecting a stronger orientation to the world of the Azhar (which did not institutionally support a candidate).

            Morsi did exceptionally well in the province of Fayoum with 593,000 votes out of 762,000 cast (just a note: I’ve rounded all the numbers to the nearest thousand).  Shafiq, on the the other hand, did exceptionally well in Minufia where he gained 947,000 out of 1.32 million votes cast.  Those who savor the irony of fate (a popular Egyptian Facebook meme these days) might notice that the only district in Minufia Morsi won was “Sadat.”  This outcome may be due to some character of the province (or what we might account for in the language of heavier statistical artillery, fixed effects).  It would be easy to make up a story about Minufia as a conservative bulwark of old regime remnants or benighted peasants in which case I suppose Fayoum would be where the revolutionary (or at least Islamist but less plausibly more Muslim) peasants live.  More likely there may be significant sociological or economic differences between these two areas that would be worth investigation.  What is clear is that rurality alone doesn’t seem to explain much.

            Other provinces suggest a very different kind of story, more like that of Cairo.  In Giza the two candidates split the vote, but Shafiq won Imbaba the lower-class district where religious violence flared in May 2011 and which had been an “Islamic emirate” in the 1990s.  The more upscale areas of Doqqi and Agouza went for Shafiq while in the more rural districts of Kerdasa and Hawamdieh Mursi won heavily.  Atfih, another site of violence against Christians, voted very strongly for Mursi.  In Alexandria, Amiriyah’s two districts overwhelmingly supported Morsi which could suggest either that inter-religious strife plays a mobilizing role for electoral politics in Egypt or that areas with a tendency for high levels of Islamist organization are also more likely to experience religious conflict.  Or, if taken in concert with the results of Imbaba, it may suggest that there are some important differences in religious conflict and its impact on various areas.  The conflict in Imbaba may have appeared to local residents to have had its roots in outside issues.  It developed out of a claim by a Muslim man not originally from the area that a church was holding his wife, who converted from Christianity, a virtual prisoner.  In Atfih and Amiriyah the conflicts appear to have originally been rooted in local antagonisms including property disputes.

            Shafiq did exceptionally well in the areas in and around the cities of Mansourah and Mit Ghamr in Daqahliyah, but the most surprising results appear to be in Gharbiya province.  Shafiq crushed Mursi in and around Tanta as well as in and around the famed working-class textile center of Mahallah al-Kubra and in Kafr al-Zayyat.  It is impossible to say how well Shafiq did with working-class voters but he clearly did very well in urban areas historically associated with strikes, Egypt’s left, and the industrial working class.   Comparisons with earlier elections this year cannot be very meaningful because the voting districts differ across elections.  For example, Gharbiya had two districts for the proportional representation contests for the parliament whereas the presidential results are reported on the basis the regular administrative divisions of the province.  It is nevertheless worth noting that Mursi received fewer votes than the combined total of the FJP and Salafi parties (totals are reported for both Nour and Construction and Development) which together received more than 50 percent of the province’s vote.  Together these parties received more than 650,000 votes in the parliamentary election in Gharbiya but Morsi was credited with 583,000 votes in the presidential contest. The provisional (but complete) returns for the presidential election in the province reported by Al-Ahram give Shafiq 993,000 votes out of 1.58 million cast.  These are clearly much larger than the totals for the Wafd and Election Bloc which won seats with something like 100,000 votes across the two districts that made up the province. 

This story was somewhat lightly repeated in one other area with similar associations, Shubra al-Khayma in Qalyubiya province on the northern outskirts of Cairo.  The equally strong textile center and old leftist stronghold of Kafr al-Dawar, on the other hand, gave 71,000 votes out of 106,000 to Mursi and the markaz Kafr al-Dawar also voted heavily for Mursi (103,000 votes out of 145,000 cast).  

            Much of the meaning of the vote remains hidden from our view given the paucity of information.   But it is, I think, apparent that the Egyptian electorate continues to change as it is presented with different challenges rather than being a monolithic bloc as may have appeared during the March 2011 referendum.  It also suggests that the use of the term “felool” (“remnants” of the old regime) will remain a powerful political tool.  But it may not be a good idea to base analysis of Egypt’s ongoing politics on the idea that the electoral base of politicians such as Shafiq, obviously himself a remnant of the old regime, is itself a stable, uniform, and minor feature of Egyptian political life. 


Monday, June 18, 2012

The Egyptian Military On the Offensive

    Egyptians have expressed anger, dismay and disdain for Field Marshall Muhammad Hussein Tantawi the former infantry commander who now heads the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.  But one thing he may learned during the Battle of the Chinese Farm between October 15 and October 17 1973 was the importance of exploiting even the smallest gaps between enemy lines and then mercilessly pursuing a defeated foe even at the risk of massive losses.  That was, after all, what happened to the Sixteenth Infantry Brigade when Tantawi was a Lieutenant-Colonel facing Ariel Sharon’s assault against the Egyptian Third Army.  In the last two weeks the Supreme Council of the publication of an amended version of the Constitutional Declaration, SCAF has completed the rout of its opposition.  Those who were convinced there was no revolution in Egypt might be well advised to consider that SCAF, at any rate, was not in agreement. 
    During the first six months of 2011 SCAF moved tentatively as popular mobilization spilled into the streets and many of the institutions of governance ceased to function.  By the end of the summer of 2011, however, the generals appear to have felt more sure of their position and in the months since late last summer they have responded more forcefully to challenges to their authority—whether in street fighting, massive demonstrations, or assertions of legislative sovereignty.  In the last month they have moved quickly and decisively whenever opportunities presented themselves.   Whether they will be able to transform tactical success into strategically successful government authority is less clear.
    Many observers, from Muhammad el-Baradei to Hossam Bahgat, have noted that Egypt is now a military dictatorship in which the president’s powers are sharply diminished, parliament has been dissolved, and SCAF has been written solidly into the constitution.  There are several peculiar features of the new constitution.  One is the prominent role accorded to the Supreme Constitutional Court both as representative of the nation and as an institution of influence.  Another is the care to preserve the existing formal structure of the government even as the relative powers of the state are radically transformed.  And the third is the peculiar role the Supreme Constitutional Court is to play in the months ahead.
    This is not the place for a critique of the political choices of the Muslim Brothers over the last year and a half, although such critiques are being made in Egypt.  But already in early May the former judge and Islamist intellectual, Tariq al-Bishri, pointed out in a article for the daily Shorouq what he called two of their crucial mistakes.    Al-Bishri, historically an ally of the MB, chided them for an unwillingness to recognize the need to move rapidly ahead with the primary task the old constitutional declaration entrusted to them:  establishing a constitutional commission.  They did not, he wrote, recognize the need to broaden their support rather than to gain control of the commission for themselves.  He also noted that the MB had antagonized the Supreme Constitutional Court by allowing a deputy to propose a law that would have changed the composition of the court and also stripped legislation passed by a super-majority from its jurisdiction for review.   Given the response by several prominent members of the Egyptian legal community, it is clear that the SCC saw this as the opening salvo in an attempt to destroy the court, its independence, and the rule of law.  Withdrawing the bill is unlikely to have appeased the court.  It is more likely to have convinced its members (if they needed further convincing) that the MB-dominated legislature was a continuing threat to the institution, its members, and the values they professed.
    When the Supreme Court was asked to rule on the constitutionality of the law governing the parliamentary elections, they overturned the portion governing the third elected as individuals while leaving the two-thirds elected on party lists intact.  They also dissolved parliament, a step they had taken in other electoral challenges during the Mubarak era, but which was certainly easier now. Under SCAF’s constitutional declaration the Egyptian parliament no longer can decide on the seating of its own members.   With stunning speed, Marshall Tantawi had the parliamentary chambers locked and posted military guards outside the building to physically prevent parliamentarians from assembling.  The legislature which, alone of the three branches of government,  could claim to represent the public both by function and by election had ceased to exist.  The Supreme Constitutional Court, with the backing of SCAF, had in effect offered itself as the embodiment of the rule of law and had staked its claim that the rule of law trumped the erratic claims of representative democracy. 
    Egypt hardly had time to adjust to the dissolution of parliament before the run-off presidential election began in which MB leader Muhammad Morsi faced former prime minister and air force general Ahmad Shafiq.  Participation in the second round was not much higher than in the first round and revealed a country still deeply split.  Given the resounding victory of the Islamist parties in the parliament elections and their claim to have been the winners in the March 2011 parliamentary referendum which passed with 77% of the vote, the outcome of the presidential election is extremely close.
    While the eyes of most Egyptians were fixed on the election, SCAF took the opportunity to issue amendments and additions to the constitutional declaration of 2011.  SCAF obviously intended to allow the presidential election to proceed freely because they stripped the office of much of the power it had held under the 1971 constitution and the earlier constitutional declaration.  They transferred legislative power to their own hands until a new parliament is elected which includes the power to name a committee to write the constitution.  They have effectively eliminated the president’s authority over the military, including the decision to declare war.  Having already decreed that the military police can act with civil authority, they have added to the constitution the possibility of making the military directly responsible for public order.
These elements provide the constitutional basis for a military dictatorship in which, at least for the time being, the military authority remains wholly separate from (but by no means subordinate to) civilian authority.  SCAF has, in the past two weeks, moved very rapidly to consolidate a new form of government even as the primary organized opposition, the MB, appears to be confused and uncertain about what steps to take next.   They have issued statements contesting the dissolution of parliament, demanding that the constitutional committee chosen by the dissolved parliament meet, and they have continued to contest the election.  The problem, however, as both Amnon Reshef and Hussein Tantawi will tell them from the experience at the Chinese Farm, is that declarations do not win battles.  And at this point, with their narrow victory at the polls over the candidate of the old order bolstered by a significant number of voters who actively dislike them, the MB do not have the troops or the audacity to press forward.
One peculiar feature of the constitutional declaration is the role it accords to the Supreme Constitutional Court.  The president was to have taken the oath of office before parliament which is, in most democratic republics, the representative of the nation.  The newly elected Egyptian president will, in the absence of a parliament, be sworn in before the SCC which therefore becomes a kind of symbol of the nation although not its actual representative.  In addition the new declaration empowers a select group of Egyptians (the president of the republic, the president of SCAF, the Prime Minister, a high judicial official, or 20 percent of the constitutional committee) to object to portions of the constitution as it is being written.  These objections will be brought to the SCC which will make a final decision about whether they accord with the objectives of the revolution.  This is a remarkable grant of constitution-making (and not just interpretive) authority to the SCC.  It is, in a sense, a reversal  and repudiation of the approach taken by the MB and their Salafi allies in the legislature when they claimed that the power of democratic majority gave them the unrestricted power to write a constitution.
Europe’s liberal autocracies of the late 19th century were premised on the supremacy of a written constitution and primarily organized through administrative law.  Often referred to as a Rechtsstaat in which both democracy and substantive notions of justice were subordinated to the application of a civil code through a bureaucratic state it was widely perceived as the basis for economic growth and ultimate political participation.  The SCC and SCAF have, for the moment, not only vanquished the Islamist movements which had opened themselves up to assault but they have positioned themselves jointly at the heart of whatever political regime governs Egypt in the immediate future.   They have also vanquished the institution, the legislature, which posed the most dangerous challenge to the idea of social order they prefer and they have transformed the presidency into a modest position.
For the short-term this is a profound check on popular participation in Egyptian political life.  What is ironic, however, is that the military has now accomplished what the MB could not have imagined: limiting the power of the presidency.   Whether by then, the Supreme Constitutional Court which is clearly a junior partner in the emerging system of government in Egypt, retains the popular respect so necessary for the judicial branch to function is anybody’s guess.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Missing Ikhwan and An Electorate Split in Three

    The first round of the Egyptian presidential election, like every other election over the past year and a half and unlike those over the previous 60 years, brought its own surprises.  The usually unreliable polls were again wrong as were most of the pundits (both Egyptian and foreign).  In first place was Muhammad Morsy, the second-choice candidate of the Muslim Brother’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice party. Close by in second place was deposed President Hosny Mubarak’s last prime minister, the former air force general Ahmad Shafiq.  The two candidates who had widely been presumed frontrunners, the liberal Islamist Abd al-Munim Abu al-Futouh and Mubarak’s former foreign minister and head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, took fourth and distant fifth places respectively.  The surprisingly strong third place candidate, Hamdeen Sabbahi, had been written off by most observers and many activists as too secular, too nationalist, and too Nasserist to be anything but a has-been.  A shift of a tad more than 3% of the vote would have put him in the final round with Morsy. 

    Most Egyptians probably consider the contest between Morsy and Shafiq an apocalyptic scenario although for very different reasons.  The MB see events since January 2011 as a successful revolution that has brought them, for the first time in their history, to the power that their popular support warrants.  They fear that President Shafiq would restore the old order, not only stripping the MB of its newfound power and influence, but hunting down its leaders for trial and jail. For them this is a moment in which their existential fears and hopes are on the line.  So too for many of Shafiq’s supporters who saw the revolution as an overly zealous assault on a stable and increasingly wealthy society that has long since exceeded any reasonable bounds.  They fear that a Morsy presidency would allow the Muslim Brothers to combine their control of parliament with the power of the executive to dominate the country as did the old regime but with the additional, revolutionary intent of enforcing their particular version of Islamic law and politics.  Supporters of the losing candidates in large measure see the revolutionary events of 2011 as an incomplete and failing endeavor to change Egyptian politics profoundly. For them no matter which candidate wins, the hope of a more open, socially just, and truly pluralist order will be lost in a renewed dictatorship. The perceived stakes of this election are, therefore, exceptionally high.

    While it often has appeared that Egypt was divided into revolutionary and counter-revolutionary camps, this election indicates there are at least three major groups in the country:  the Islamists centered in the MB, partisans of law and the old order, and supporters of a populist social-welfare state broadly construed.  Each seems to be able to regularly command about a third of the electorate and there is no reason to believe that any of them will be leaving the scene any time soon.

    After a year in which the Islamist movements and especially the Muslim Brothers, appeared to have dominated politics, the presidential election revealed a very different political landscape to the complete dismay of many Egyptians.  The election campaign and even more the pre-campaign were, as most of the last 18 months have been, an emotional roller coaster.  The first-choice candidate of the Muslim Brothers, the deputy general guide Khairat Shater, was disqualified because he had been convicted (on trumped-up charges) of a felony fewer than 5 years before the election.  A week after the first round of the presidential election the MB-dominated parliament finally proposed a law granting political amnesty to those convicted of political crimes under the Mubarak era.  Had they moved more expeditiously Shater could have run as could Ayman Nour, who had challenged Mubarak in 2005 and served four years in prison for his temerity.  The presidential commission also disqualified the Salafi candidate, Hazem Salah Abou-Ismail who violated a constitutional requirement that no candidate for president have parents with non-Egyptian citizenship.   Abou-Ismail himself had supported a yes vote in the constitutional referendum which made that a binding condition despite knowing that  his mother had become an American.  He knew then, as when he proposed running for the presidency, that he was in complete violation of the constitutional provision which, unlike the abrogation of the political rights of felons, could not be changed by an act of parliament.

    It is no small irony that Abou-Ismail was disqualified for having a parent who became an American at the end of her life.  So, too, would any Egyptian married to a foreigner whereas Morsy can be president despite having children who are US citizens because they were born here while he attended graduate school and worked as a professor in the California State university system. The somewhat xenophobic idea that the presidency must be an office reserved for pure Egyptians, untainted by intimate connections with foreign countries in their childhood or their marital bed, runs headlong into the reality that many professional and middle-class Egyptians have a variety of relationships with the United States, European countries, or the rest of the Arab world. 

    Many polls were conducted in the weeks before the election and the invariably showed Morsy winning less than 10% of the vote while bestowing the leading positions on Moussa and Abou al-Futouh.  The two conducted the first open debate between presidential candidates in Arab history during which they traded barbed comments and directly insulting questions.  Morsy and Shafiq, meanwhile, the two least charismatic figures in the race, were ignored or (when remembered) mocked.  By the end of the campaign, even English speakers knew that Morsy was the Brotherhood’s “spare tire” without having to reflect much on the level of preparation and discipline required thereby.  The MB’s decision to field a presidential candidate after months of denying that they would remains something of a mystery but one obvious reality is that they had come to realize that almost any president other than one of their own would rapidly move to restrict their power.  Another irony of contemporary Egyptian politics, frequently noted by Abou al-Futouh (himself a former member of their inner leadership) is that the MB does not, strictly speaking, have legal status.  Rather like the foreign NGOs whose staff were charged with criminal behavior in the winter, the MB is not a registered organization and neither its finances, elections, nor internal organization are subject to public review or government regulation.  Unlike the NGOs, however, the MB is a powerful political and social force but, in the wake of the revolution, it could be transformed by a president bent on making it at once legal and weakened.  This Abou al-Futouh explicitly promised to do.

    Believing, as did most observers (including me had I been asked), that the second round would be a battle between Abou al-Futouh, representing the hopes of the revolution, and Moussa, representing the fears of the feloul (the conservatives and remnants of the old regime), many activists and members of the political elite spent weeks debating whether it made more strategic sense to back Abu al-Futouh from the beginning or wait.  The best strategic thinking was that Moussa would come in first, that Sabbahi would pull votes away from Abou al-Futouh leaving Morsy to sneak into the second round.  The scenarios widely (and at times wildly) considered were many but usually included a run-off between Abou al-Futouh and Morsy which would insure some form of Islamist domination of the presidency or between Abou al-Futouh and Moussa in which Egyptians would have to decide whether to back the most liberal of the Islamists or the most conservative of the liberals.  The country, everybody knew, was dividing into two camps: the revolution and the counter-revolution of the generals.

    Although the second and final round of the election will necessarily require a division of Egypt into two camps, the arithmetic of the first suggests that some surprising governing coalitions are possible.  The top five candidates received about 98% of the vote so we can ignore the remaining eight.  The first two, obvious coalitions, represent the hopes of the MB and the old regime respectively.  Morsy hopes he can combine Abu al-Futouh’s 17.5% of the vote with his own 25% of the vote and half of Sabbahi’s vote and govern through what he and his supporters will deem a revolutionary Islamic coalition.  This assumes, of course, that all or almost all of Abu al-Futouh’s supporters prefer an Islamic candidate and that many of Sabbahi’s voters will not cast ballots for a former Mubarak official.  Shafiq, on the contrary, assumes that he can combine his 23% of the vote with Moussa’s 11% and win a significant portion of Sabbahi’s voters who have already demonstrated that they will not vote for the MB.  There is also every reason to believe that Shafiq will benefit more from abstentions than the MB because abstainers are more likely to be found among dismayed supporters of Abu al-Futouh and Sabbahi than among supporters of Moussa and Shafiq for whom this election poses an existential challenge.  No longer available but tantalizing was a different coalition that earlier seemed impossible.  Had, for example, Sabbahi and Abu al-Futouh run as a presidential/vice presidential ticket together there is every reason now to believe that Sabbahi would have gained some 30% of the vote and entered the run-off with Morsy with the near certainty that supporters of Moussa and Shafiq (a combined 35% of the vote)  would vote for any opponent of the MB. 

    A last coalition of sorts that nobody talks about but obviously exists at least in theory is a “coalition of order” between the MB, Shafiq and Moussa supporters.  If the assumption that guides the “Islamic revolutionary” coalition is that the MB were part of the revolution, there is also the possibility that they now speak for a large group of Egyptians for whom the revolution has gone far enough and who want a return to “normalcy.”  Between Shafiq who believes the revolution has gone too far and the MB who believe they have brought it just far enough there is more room for political compromise than there would have been between either of these camps and Sabbahi.  A Shafiq presidency with significant MB participation in the government could easily claim to represent some 60% of Egyptians.  Shafiq would be unlikely to give the MB the socalled ministries of sovereignty but he might be quite willing to entrust them with several of the social ministries. 

    While any dreams of a Sabbahy-Abu al-Futouh ticket are now spilt milk they do suggest a profound problem with the Egypt’s oppositional political leadership:  a seeming inability to put personal or partisan advantage aside which ultimately cripples their ability to accomplish their own goals.  Given that there was no prior electoral experience to suggest that Sabbahy had significant support that outweighed that of Abu al-Futouh their difficulty in reaching a common candidacy is understandable. It will nevertheless weigh heavily on the country’s future and it will weigh even more heavily if they and their followers cannot establish any ongoing institutional presence.

    Going forward the question is which coalition—particularly the revolutionary Islamic one or the stability one—will be victorious in the presidential race.  Both have significant support among the Egyptian population but neither has sufficient support to win alone.  The votes of the third (I prefer not to think of it as centrist or moderate, two words that have bedeviled and confused discussions of Egyptian politics for more than a decade) coalition will decide the outcome.  Supporters of Sabbahy and Abu al-Futouh comprise nearly 40% of Egypt’s voters in the first round (or about 16% of all voters since 60% of Egypt’s voters did not come to the polls.  We know very little about who they are or where they are physically other than at the almost useless level of the governorate.

    The result is sufficiently surprising that many people suspect fraud but no one can quite say how it occurred.  Claims of fraud and the occasional mention that turnout was much lighter than in the parliamentary rounds masks one of the most important features of the first presidential round:  the collapse of the MB/FJP vote due both to abstentions and shifts.

    One of the surprising and so far unasked questions in the election is what happened to the significant number of MB and Salafi (primarily Nour) voters who cast ballots in the parliamentary elections but were AWOL last week.  Clearly millions of supporters of the MB in local elections did not cast votes for the presidency.  The Freedom and Justice party, headed by Morsy, collected more than 10 million votes (37.5%) in the parliamentary elections but Morsy himself won about 5.5 million (25 %).  Some 7.5 million Egyptians (28%) voted for the Salafi Nour party in the fall, but even if you make the absurd assumption that all of Abu al-Futouh’s vote came from them why did he get only 4 million votes (18 %)?  Clearly some of the MB and Salafi voters (who are of course not themselves members of the MB or necessarily Salafis) voted for Sabbahi or Moussa but many must have not cast ballots.  Had Morsy received the same votes that went to the FJP (which he heads) and half the votes cast for the Nour party, he would nearly have won the presidency on the first round.  He would have won nearly 13 million votes out of 29 million (45 %) cast instead of 5.5 million out of 22 million.  There was significant shock about the 586,000 votes (56 % of the those) cast for General Shafiq in the province of Minoufia, but Minoufia looks like an example of something else entirely.  Nearly 1.2 million voters there went to the polls for the FJP alone in the two proportional list constituencies that made up the province for the parliamentary elections. This is more than the total number of votes cast in the province's presidential election.  Morsy got about 200,000 votes; so if half the remaining million who voted FJP in the winter had gone back to the polls for the party’s leader in the spring he would have handily defeated Shafiq. 

Not quite as puzzling but far from obvious is where exactly Shafiq’s and Moussa’s 7.5 million votes (35 %) came from.   The vote for former NDP parties in the parliament election was just under 2 million (about 7 %).  If you make the assumption that the combined five million parliamentary New Wafd and Egyptian Bloc (18 %)  voters went for either Moussa or Shafiq then you’re in the ballpark.  This is in essence the claim that many supporters and members of the MB and the Salafi movements make:  the electoral base of these parties was Christian and those voters cast their presidential ballots for Shafiq.  Plausible as it may appear this assumption is not realistic.

    The claim that Shafiq’s victory was due to Christians is not borne out by the numbers.  As political commentators  and activists have pointed out, Shafiq’s vote came primarily from overwhelmingly Muslim governorates such as Minufiya where he won nearly 600,000 votes (about 11% of his total) and Sharqiya where he won more than 625,000 votes (about 12 %).   News accounts also suggest that in wide sections of the Delta voters turned on the MB, but again the crucial issue here is the absent vote for the FJP rather than the vote for Shafiq.  Had Shafiq won 5.5 million votes out of nearly 30 million (about 19%) his second-place showing would be less remarkable.

    It is nevertheless certain that few if any Christians voted for (or will vote for) Morsy.  Because Morsy has been reported as saying Christians who voted for Shafiq are not really Egyptians the claim that they are the base of the old regimes attempt to regain power is troubling for many reasons.  It is incendiary and suggests that the MB/FJP will use sectarian language to motivate supporters to the polls as they did during the March 2011 referendum and the parliamentary votes.  It also reveals the profound difficulty the MB and the Islamist trend more generally have with understanding why Christians and many Muslims as well distrust them.  That the Christians, as a minority facing discrimination and prejudice, might have their own legitimate interests in a truly plural and secular (in the American not the French meaning of the term) polity is clearly foreign to the MB.  It is this unwillingness to recognize the limits on its power as a majority that makes so many Egyptians—Christian and Muslims—fearful of the MB. 

    The electoral campaign is important because it will bring to the executive office a candidate committed to the elimination of the losing side from public life (though not necessarily to their physical liquidation).  The campaign also looks to be important because it will, almost necessarily, be a campaign that exacerbates the country’s already deep divisions over the revolution, its meaning, and the long-term value of the changes it has already wrought. 

    What applies to the MB applies as well to Shafiq who is campaigning on a promise to end, if not reverse, the revolutionary events of the last year.  Both candidates appear unable to recognize that the Egyptian public is profoundly divided.  The revolutionary solution to wipe out the counter-revolution (or feloul) broadly defined and the counter-revolutionary solution to eliminate the revolution broadly defined will thwart any possibility of creating a democratic state in a plural society.  It appears, moreover, that at least a third of the country understands this all too well and voted accordingly.  Continued calls, especially by the losing candidates in the presidential race, for a presidential council are a recognition of this reality.  Unfortunately this proposal to solve deep political divisions through an administrative improvisation, are too late, too little, and unrealistic.  So, too, are attempts to resolve the dilemma through demands for guarantees from the two candidates and their respective supporters.  The renewal of demonstrations in the public squares of Egypt as I write this, however, suggests that the Egyptian people have not yet said their last word to those political elites who refuse to recognize that a return to authoritarianism, whether of the minority or a presumed electoral majority, is no longer a solution.