Run for Egypt’s presidency

A first glance on the candidates
Wilhelm Langthaler
Egypt remains in turmoil. The fall of Mubarak’s tyranny sounded the starting signal for a large and deep process of transformation. With the referendum of March 19, 2011, the military council with support of the Islamic forces has frozen the popular demand for a constituent assembly. Both the parliamentary elections of September as well as the presidential elections set for the turn of year will thus take place within a substantially unchanged constitutional framework. The new president will wield de facto dictatorial powers and will thus play a pre-eminent role.

The landscape of the projected candidacies gives an idea of the current situation. In the forthcoming half years things may, however, alter radically.

Amr Moussa
the current secretary-general of the Arab League is the main candidate of the old regime, the military and the business elite. He tries to present himself as pro-Palestinian and in distance to the old regime. His obvious links to the Mubarak system may, however, cause severe troubles to him.

General Magdy Hatata
is a retired chief of staff of the Egyptian army. In case Moussa’s campaign collapses he cold be a fall back solution for the reactionary forces as the army enjoys prestige within the people.

General Ahmed Bilel
had protested against Egypt’s support for the Western attack on Iraq in 1991. He might be a more nationalist variant of Hatata.

Mohamed ElBaradei
as former president of the International Atomic Energy Agency he is internationally maybe best known but neither the old regime nor the people’s movement trust him. Therefore also for the West he will not be the first choice.

Ayman Nour
is president of the El Ghad Party which used to be part of the legal liberal opposition under Mubarak. It is not to be excluded that some sections of the upper und middle classes will rally behind him.

Abd el Minim Futur
is the hidden joker of the Muslim Brotherhood. While they officially announced not to participate in the presidential elections Futur quit their membership to somewhat weaken the direct link. The Brotherhood would prefer a common candidate together with other forces on whom they wield influence. But they seem to use Futur as their joker in case this scenario proofs impossible.

Hisham Bastawisi
is vice president of the court of cassation and a former communist. He is classified as soft left reaching also into the liberal milieu. As a judge he takes credit for the vocal opposition of his profession to the dictatorship.

Hamdeen Sabahi
is head of the Nasserite Karama party and former MP. He will appeal to quite the same current as Bastawisi, namely the left nationalist forces of the popular movement. One of the most prominent intellectual figures of this political area, Abdelhaleem Kandil, announced to negotiate for a one single common candidate. Sabahi in the first instance supported the YES in the referendum led by the coalition composed of the army leadership and the Brotherhood but was forced to withdraw it under the pressure of his party and the movement.

Buthaina Kamel
is a liberal journalist and the only woman so far to have announced her candidacy.

On our way back to the airport we listened to the voice of the people audible for foreigners in person of a taxi driver coming from the poor southern city of Assiut. He opposed Moussa and Baradei as the first brought the NATO to Libya and the second the USA into Iraq. The left were good people but lacking experience and disturbing stability. The Muslim Brotherhood in his reading were trustful people but would cause trouble with the international community which the county cannot afford. The referendum on the constitutional changes he did support as the danger of deleting Islam from the constitution could be averted. The deep people, however, eventually did not disclose to us whom he intends to cast his ballot for.

May 3, 2011