Presidential Elections: An insider’s view

Presidential Elections: An insider’s view

The post elections propaganda echoes are still looming in the Arab world , where all press and media concentrated their air and space time to its process, execution and results which prompted me to delve closely in analyzing how the elections were conducted. The primary reason for my introspection into the subject was that elections process and its final results were first and foremost aimed to address the mass Arab world and global opinion. For the concluding scene of the NDP (National Democratic Party) candidate triumph proves that the presidential elections have been arranged rather than shaking and revitalizing the democratic pace in Egypt. Lets take a closer peek.

In evaluating the Egyptian presidential elections, one cannot ignore certain facts. First, the definitive outcome was an extension of Mubarak’s term of presidency for a fifth time in a row (this translates to an overall tenure of 30 years in office). Second, the turnout of the elections which was Mubarak outperforming all others have been fairly predictable. Equally important, all federal bodies; official and semi-official media enterprises were heavily inclined to President Mubarak, albeit allowing “presidential runner ups” to appear and campaign for themselves on TV and in the press. This act of surreal fair play was a gesture to brush up Mubarak’s public’s image and to succinctly close the scene. The media have been deployed to solicit support from sponsors by deducting the expenses of their campaigns from their taxes. Moreover, county merchants have been requested to hang banners expressing their affiliation with Mubarak in main avenues and squares. Co-operations in villages have blackmailed farmers into campaigning for Mubarak by upsetting their entitlements to chemicals and fertilizers. Public sector companies deployed transportation means to transfer workers and blue collar clerks to voting bureaus, even universities organized student summer camps that coincided with the set date for elections.

In sum, the ambience surrounding the preceding elections has remained unchanged this time. What really changed was the staging of the events; whereby opening the presidential contest for certain applicants have slimmed the liberals chance to win. In addition, allocating three weeks –which is an extremely tight interval-, was an impediment in the face of any applicant to address and to influence the public opinion in a nation where population exceeds 70 million. 32million are registered in voting schedules.

Over and above what has changed was that the NDP candidate showcased himself in a different light. He appeared younger –indirectly- refuting the claims that he advanced in age (77 years). In addition, he introduced a new agenda for the coming term of 6 years announcing vows mostly economic- addressing the low and middle class income earners. Vows focused on increasing wage rates and eliminating crippling unemployment. For publicity, Mubarak toured central governorates. Other runner ups conducted similar tours.

For the first time in Egypt, discussions and debates have reached a higher altitude. Opposition and liberal press have gone a long way in criticizing the president’s policy and his family’s uneven authority. People were given freedom to express their views while being deprived from participating.

These qualities gave the elections a new face-lift which had important bearings on the outside world. Again, this had been pre-estimated and prepared for. The provisions for the elections and extending another term for Mubarak required exceptional effort to convince the public opinion that after 24 years in office, the Egyptian president can still bear the brunt of his position and also be a necessity to Egypt. In addition, Mubarak shall disentangle all pending dilemmas lingering since his previous 5 terms. This effort required sending campaign marketers to the UK and to the US to review campaign advertising and methods. Worthy to mention that the director of the president’s campaign is a political science tutor who spent 9 months in the US studying the art of congress and presidential elections directing and execution.

It would be difficult to stipulate that Egypt has witnessed righteous and just elections, for it was different way to guarantee the extension of the President’s term performed in a more acceptable manner to foreign observers.

The declining number of polls is clear cut evidence that the campaign preceding the elections inducing people to vote have not succeeded in persuading 77% of eligible voters enlisted to participate. For only 23% was the real percentage of participation in the elections. There were many reasons behind this, mostly, that the result of the elections was anticipated which refutes any viability in the process of electing and choosing a candidate. The majority of votes came from rural areas , whereby government dominance is greater than urban areas. Moreover, votes from rural areas were amassed because their absence to vote in favor of the government would subject them to a fine of 100L.E.

If directing and executing the scene of a play is a quality of an over-the top performance, it is also wise to mention that innovating the content was apparent in the production. In other words, the novelty of the crest is in its “guise”, while the novelty of the trough lies in its “content”. That was very evident in the pulse of the Egyptians in the streets. It was alerting that in fifty years, people have breached red lines long established to protect authority figures from condemnation , and they have trespassed confines of fears and silence. Moreover, non governmental organizations have also had a crucial presence in the political arena. Accredited and recognized political parties have had a subtle impact, leaving the NDP the only most dominant. While as, unofficial and unrecognized bodies such the Muslim Brotherhood and the Kefaya movements the most vivid and dramatic.

Whether or not these developments were a by product of marginal freedom that surfaced before or during the elections or were a natural consequence of subsequent regional developments or were a result of societal pressure exerted following a considerable era of political recession, have not ensured to renew anything on the top. For Mubarak’s extension of term was incontestable. However, the upcoming parliamentary elections in November could generate an intense competition putting vows of political reform into a true test. Mubarak didn’t confront a serious competitor in the last presidential elections, for a variety of reasons. But, the NDP can stand true competition and defeat in any other elections.

Remarkably, Muslim brotherhood votes were of great significance. The majority of votes for the Mubarak’s successor in the ranks came from the Muslim Brotherhood party, which asserted their weight and influence in advancing one party (such as Ayman Nour’s El Ghad) ranking over the other (the Wafd party-Noaman Gommaa . The Muslim Brotherhood’s votes would be of chief importance in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Depicting the presidential elections scene, I’d close on one note. The elections have not bought anything new this time. However, it has unleashed energies on different levels and has unveiled potentials that could introduce a change agent in the parliamentary elections provided that an air of objectivity and impartiality prevails.