A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, December 9, 2011

Egyptian Liberals Cautiously Welcome Lesser of Two Evils: MB Swamps Al-Nour Runoffs; Shahat Beaten

Round one of phase one of the Egyptian elections stunned liberal and secular parties when the Muslim Brotherhood ran first (which had been widely expected) and the Salfist Al-Nour Party ran second (which was a shock). The runoff round this week resulted in the Brotherhood largely winning the one-on-one runoffs between itself and Al-Nour, however, which at least allows secularists the cold comfort of knowing that the lesser of two evils will dominate.

They are taking particular comfort in the defeat of ‘Abdel-Momeim El Shahat in Alexandria; his recent denunciation of Naguib Mahfouz on the anniversary of his centenary (more on Mahfouz later today by the way) and insistence that banning alcohol and mixed swimming would not affect Egypt's tourism revenues actually led to his own party telling him to stop giving press interviews. He was soundly defeated.

The first phase (only one third of the Governorates) shocked the liberals, and they are trying to coalesce more effectively for phase two. I'll have more analysis of this in the coming week; that curious SCAF briefing with the Western media raises questions about whether SCAF is going to give the new Parliament much of a role anyway. The Egyptian drama is far from over.

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