Egyptians today know they are voting for the lesser of two evils, but have a hard time determining which is the lesser. This is how part of my family in
today in the presidential election run off : one couple went together to
the polls together to cancel out each other’s vote. He suggested to his wife
that they should spare themselves the hassle in the heat and just stay home,
but she was determined to go to the polls, so he reluctantly had to go himself just
to counter her vote. Although she had been a staunch supporter of the
anti-Mubarak revolution, the wife voted for Shafiq, because she loathed the
Muslim Brotherhood candidate Morsi and all he represented even more. Although
he equally opposes an Islamist takeover, the husband voted for Morsi, on the
basis that the people could always oust the Brotherhood, but could never oust the
military, who wield the ultimate power and can only be minimally
counterbalanced, at best. The critical factor in the husband’s reasoning is
that the powers of the president have not yet been defined, and it is clear
that the military is waiting for the outcome of the election: if Shafiq
prevails, the military will define the powers of the president as virtually
limitless, in other words Mubarak’s dictatorship on steroids; on the other
hand, if the Islamist wins, the role of the president will be defined in the
most limited terms possible. That rationale is not without merit.
Either way, many, even most, Egyptians are voting for the lesser of two evils, however they define the outcome. There is blame to be assigned on every side: the Muslim Brotherhood, unarguably, overreached in trying to control both the legislative and the executive, and in so doing spooked a sizeable proportion of the population. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is making an even more naked grab for complete power, and is prepared to nullify elections results and squash dissent unmercifully: not a single officer, high or low, has been held accountable for the brutality exercised against demonstrators and the deaths that resulted from it.
Then there are those who are opting out altogether, and heeding the appeal by famous writer Alaa Aswany who makes the analogy that, when a team realizes that the game is rigged, the only option is to stop playing, rather than legitimize the fraudulent victory of the opponent. Vote, opt out, cancel each other’s votes: no good options, no good outcome for
today. So there are those post all over their Face Book pages: Pray for Egypt!