You Must Be in Egypt!

An alien could tell he landed in Paris when he sees the Eiffel Tower; in New York when he catches a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty or in London judging by Big Ben. He would recognize other cities and countries in the same way. In olden traditions, the landmark of Cairo and Egypt as a whole was the Pyramids. Nowadays, however, Egypt would be recognized by its general elections.

There are two types of elections in this world. One is craftily cooked by the ruling authorities where we know in advance that the ruling party and its leader would win all votes and seats. If you wondered – which is not always allowed – you’d be told that each country had its own type of democracy.

The other type is a fair one where votes are divided between competing parties and where the ruling party normally loses popular support because it is said that under smoke there is fire and people tend to prefer water than fire for purely humane reasons.

That’s how things were in the world until elections came to Egypt where an alien would discover that the types are not necessarily limited to only two. There’s a purely Egyptian type known only to Egyptians.

Egyptian elections are unlike Syrian elections for example where things have long been settled. We have parties and newspapers in the battle. We have people such as the National Democratic Party who swear the elections were fair and square and we have others such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporting opposition newspapers who swear it was all cooked even before it began.

Moreover, there’s always space for the boycotting parties among whose members we must see a disagreement over the wisdom behind the boycott, and whether there was at least one good reason to participate as long as they were fated to. We even have parties that boycott elections for reasons of their own.

That’s what the scene looks like, full of ardor and matchless noise. Those who watch Egyptian TV could tell that elections are indeed historic even if no one cared to discuss the agendas of the NDP or the Muslim Brotherhood which contain enough suspense and entertainment as they are.

The whole event turns into an occasion to strike all painful chords, starting from the Egyptian political regime and up to the last constitutional amendments, along with all preferences of the times of Nasser and/or Sadat and whether it would be nice for Egypt to play a regional role or whether the whole issue is of no significance.

When we get to the results, the whole scene would be complete with the landslide victory of the national party. Don’t ask if there could be a political regime without real or illusory opposition. Know that opposition comes from the national party itself. It is a party that is nominated by its leadership and later joined by independent candidates.

In a recent incident, 130 democratic members of the NDP didn’t show up while 19 others voted against the party. This means that the National Party has taken upon itself the burden of representing the government and the opposition at the same time, which is a purely Egyptian experience!

However, the picture would not be complete without an American objection to the results of the elections voiced by the White House spokesman. Naturally, an Egyptian response would follow to counter the Americans and to save face of sovereignty and the like.

In any case, events would allow for a warning against double standards, the American defeat in Iraq as well as the foolishness of Mr. Bush and his new and old conservatives. When the story climaxes as described above, the alien will undoubtedly know that he is in Egypt!