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Egyptian Elections Could Lead to Mubarak’s Former Prime Minister in Runoff

Official results in the historic Egyptian Presidential elections will not be revealed until Monday. But based on early returns and exit polls, it looks increasingly like a runoff will ensue, with the choice coming down to a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hosni Mubarak’s former Prime Minister.

The Guardian has the best rundown of the results:

5.00pm: Here’s a summary of the situation as it stands at the moment in Egypt’s presidential election:

• With the vast majority of votes counted, it’s almost certain that the two most divisive candidates, former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq and Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood will face each other in a run-off next month.

• Turnout is said to have been just under 42% – lower than in the recently parliamentary elections.

A spokesman for Shafiq, the former Prime Minster, said “the revolution has ended,” in reaction to the news. And if this holds, that would be true in a very real sense. During the Mubarak era, the battle in Egypt was always between Islamist forces and the secular group in control of the military. During the revolution, millions in Tahrir Square and across the country rejected that as a false choice. Now, that could be the choice again. Shafiq campaigned on security and reining in protests and lawlessness in the streets. His accession would almost certainly spark a new round of demonstrations.

Morsi, on the other hand, would put the Presidency in the control of the same party, the Muslim Brotherhood, that dominates Parliament, and many fear that would lead to a crackdown on secularism in all forms in Egypt.

There is a small possibility that Hamdeen Sabahi, a leftist Nasserite candidate, will pass Shafiq and make it into the runoff. Some reports have shown a late surge for Sabahi, especially in the cities, and key districts in Cairo and elsewhere have not fully reported their numbers. However, the most recent tallies show Sabahi about 700,000 votes behind.

Juan Cole wrote earlier today that a Morsi-Shafiq runoff would be a disaster:

If Egyptians have to decide between Mursi and Shafiq, they’ll have a stark choice. They could give the Muslim Brotherhood two of the major branches of civilian government and risk a swift move to Islamic law and one-party dominance. They could split the ticket and support the secular Shafiq, who is very much a creature of the old regime and of the Egyptian military. In some ways he would resurrect Mubarak’s policies but will face new limitations in presidential rule by fiat. He speaks warmly of Mubarak, and would be a highly polarizing figure who would certainly provoke a whole new round of big demonstrations on the part of the New Left youth and perhaps also Muslim fundamentalists. He has ominously promised to crack down hard on “destructive demonstrations.” Although the Western politicians and business classes might favor Shafiq for surface reasons, in fact they’d be buying a whole lot of trouble if they backed him.

A Mursi-Shafiq contest would certainly result in riots and fistfights all over the country, and if Shafiq won it would likely throw the country into substantial instability (an ironic outcome since the people voting for Shafiq in the big cities and the countryside are looking for a law and order candidate who can fight a slight rise in crime). It seems to me that the resulting demonstrations and unrest would risk further damaging Egypt’s economy.

Cole added that a Mursi-Sabahi runoff would represent a real choice for Egyptian voters between pluralism and secularism, or dominance by the Muslim Brotherhood. But it doesn’t look like we’ll get that.

Egyptian blogger Zeinobia is crestfallen:

My only condolences that from 90 million Egyptians only 50% of the eligible voters in the country “50 million” participated in this election so we are speaking about 25 million voters only, the historical elections that reminds me with the Six Days war defeat.

I do not have any words , it is like choosing between two hells : The Muslim brotherood or Shafiq !!!

We are all to blame especially the #Jan25 Revolutionaries who set back in bubbly Cairo ‘that voted for Shafiq’ and in their closed social networks realms. We are responsible for this without doubt.

The results will probably be announced Monday.

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David Dayen

David Dayen