Of Egyptian pyramids and politics

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With the omni-present Pyramids and other historical monuments towering over the northern African country, Egyptians often refer to their country as the land of wonders. Yesterday, another wonder re-established its position: Parliamentary elections.

A strategy, unfamiliar to both Egyptians and non-Egyptians alike, adopted by the National Democratic Party, which has been in power for more than thirty years, sought to present several candidates to compete with each other alongside the candidates of the opposition in the same constituency. A strategy that has resulted in as many as sixty eight candidates in one constituency alone. All this in a political environment that presents extreme difficulty when it comes to presenting more than one candidate to stand for president.

Another wonder was brought to the fore following the acceptance of the results by the opposition, including the independent candidates of the popular but banned and tolerated Muslim Brotherhood. Analysts believe that the results of the elections had been decided in advance by the President and his government, claiming that the government goes as far as deciding the number of seats each party will have in the Parliament. Despite these claims, no serious protests have ever been voiced.

Whilst some voices speak of corruption and falsification, the main opposition parties meekly accept the results and life goes on… as always. Even the Muslim Brotherhood, considered as the real opposition, remain silent. They participate in parliamentary activities and wait for the next elections, hoping, maybe, that the “Palace will consent” and give them more seats next time. In fact, it came as no surprise when their leaders conceded defeat after the results of the first round were announced on Monday. The opposition in Egypt does not play the traditional role of a thorn on the side of the ruling government.

Some journalists wrote, sarcastically, after the first results were announced, congratulating President Mubarak for his re-election whilst insisting that this was not an error on their part and that they knew very well that these were not the presidential elections. The Egyptian media has also revealed that this new Parliament will select its presidential candidate in a few months. An important duty that will guarantee the composition of the new parliament and reintroduce the new old candidate, that is, if his health and age still allow him to take the job.

Famed Egyptian author, Tawfik AL Hakim, in his book: Diary of a Prosecutor in the Provinces, novel, 1937, describes the electoral process in Egypt. The police officer of one of the provinces was protesting against the accusations of corruption and falsification of the results:

  We don`t interfere in the elections. Voting is absolutely free. Everyone votes as he likes. But by the end of the day, we simply replace the boxes with ours!!!

Indeed, Egypt is a land that knows how to preserve its Pyramids and cultures.

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