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The excitement is on and we have now officially entered election season in Egypt. The interim military government has scheduled the next presidential elections in the country to take place this coming September. Politics in Egypt are in high gear, with dozens of political parties being created since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
But other things are happening in Egypt that might just be stealing the limelight away from the presidential elections.
Recent sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians, public trials of infamous former government officials and lack of security in the country are just drops in the well of troubles plaguing Egypt today. Dozens of political parties are being established, but most all agree, the few months allotted to them to establish their presence in the country is for the lack of a more creative word, short. The situation needs a shot in the arm. September is looming, and creating a slew of great parties with equally great platforms is not enough reason to celebrate.
So how does one inject a level of excitement befitting the first presidential election in Egypt that would actually lead to change? One word, candidates!
From the start the revolution in Egypt has been leaderless. Wael Ghonim, the Google Executive turned revolutionary activist, has repeated the leaderless mantra in almost most of his T.V appearances and tweets. That might have been good to encourage diversity in the revolutions’ demographics, however what is needed today is the exact opposite.
Egypt needs excitement in its electoral process. A political marriage between its top political candidates can help bring some cohesiveness to an as of yet hugely fragmented political field, while simultaneously giving Egyptians more of a reason to shed away their historical apathy towards politics and elections in general. Let’s explore two of the most popular candidates running for the presidency in Egypt.
Mohammed El Baradei:
Some people might remember El Baradei from his years heading the IAEA, the UN’s nuclear security watchdog. He would be immediately bringing international stature and recognition to the office of the Egyptian presidency. He is adept to the dynamics and intricacies of global politics and would presumably serve to spearhead economic, social and political reform in the country. Although political polling in Egypt is still in its infancy and access to good scientific data is scarce, Al Baradei is widely recognized as a serious contender for the presidency with broad support from the population.
Moussa is a populist at his core and for all intents and purposes seems to be the most vetted of all candidates. He resonates with a huge portion of the population that might not relate to Al Baradei’s more liberal orientation. Moussa was once a prominent figure of the Mubarak regime, that is until rumors of disagreement between Moussa and Mubarak sent him packing to head the Arab League, a position that Mubarak presumably found fitting for him since it was far away from the public spotlight. He has maintained a firm stance with Israel on numerous occasions as Secretary General of the Arab League, which as we will see in the coming months will score him huge political points. In a sense, to many Egyptians he symbolizes the old guard, or that which is right with it.
So how would the El Baradei and Moussa political marriage look like? What would happen if two of the most exciting political leaders in modern Egypt’s history, in these most exciting of revolutionary times, join forces on a single presidential ticket?
With all his merits, and they are numerous, El Baradei has not had enough experience working within the cynical world of Egyptian politics. That might very well be Al Baradei’s appeal to Egypt’s huge youthful population which yearns for an idealism that Moussa simply does not embody. Here the difference between the two could not be starker. El Baradei was an Egyptian statesman of the highest stature. He is an Egyptian that won a shared Nobel Peace Prize with the International Atomic Energy Agency. He is someone that presumably does not take issues of democracy, freedom of speech, and the rule of law lightly, in fact one would expect him to be Egypt’s most vocal champion of these ideals. Moussa’s history on the other hand is one of courage and principle in the eyes of many Egyptians. This is a man that presumably stood up against Mubarak and challenged him on how he was handling the country, and was sent to the Arab League because of his dissent. It might not seem like a shabby deal to many, but the message we get out of it is clear, Moussa is an old guard hero unafraid to face down the world if he thinks its in Egypt’s favor.
As the government of Egypt changes after the revolution, so will its role in the region. It is already a foregone conclusion that Egypt’s foreign policy vis a vis the U.S and Israel will change, now it is the extent of that change that begs the question. We have seen protests in recent days in Egypt in front of the Israeli embassy demanding the ouster of the Israeli Ambassador. The fervor must be tempered, and although Moussa has traditionally been a hard-liner when it comes to Israel, having El Baradei in the decision making process would balance things out between the two. In a sense, it would be the perfect blend of progressiveness and conservatism. Egyptians would get a sense of justice and idealism all in one package, they win, and the world wins. International politics is like a game theory game, and rarely do we see such a departure from negative sum to positive sum, or simply in the case of Egypt and the world, both sides losing or both sides winning. Rarely if ever, did Egypt get a chance to have a competent government that represents the diversity of opinion of its population. Egyptians must not fear disagreement, for there will be a lot of it in the years to come. Through dialogue, conservatism as well as liberalism will be shaped into their own unique meanings in Egypt, that is a natural side effect of freedom. Having El Baradei and Moussa pair up to kick start a national dialogue from a newly elected, legitimate presidential office would be a good thing.
Who would you nominate as President of Egypt, El Baradei or Moussa? Go to our facebook page to cast your vote.