A total of 250,000 expats have thus far made it to their respective embassies to participate in deciding the fate of Egypt’s future. One week still remains until Egyptians at home cast their votes (May 26th and 27th) and the two candidates are working hard to ensure they maintain their supporters until then.
Ex-presidential and leftist Sabahi, who came third in the previous election, is contending against ex-military chief, El Sisi. Previously minister of defence Sisi has, for 45 years, been a part of the strongly established and most beloved institution of Egypt – the military. Apart from the favours national historical memory serves him, his years of experience, political knowledge and ‘inside information’ are all attractive qualities to voters. After the unbelievable rise and rapid fall of Morsi, Sisi’s presence has christened him the opposition to fanaticism and Islamism. His secularist rhetoric and outspoken support for the Coptic community make him the obvious choice for some.
What might be most unique about Sisi, are his seemingly modest proposals; whilst others have promised an end to poverty and peace on earth, his rhetoric is more realistic and therefore relatable to Egyptians who have for years experienced nothing other than broken promises. That he hasn’t aligned himself with any political party makes him answerable only to the state.
Opposition groups believe his success will prove that the deposition of Morsi was a military coup, signalling to them the impossibility of ‘democracy’ at home and a return to the days before the 25th January revolution. Further tarnishing his campaign are the numerous loyalists of the old Mubarak regime who have publicly expressed their support for Sisi, delegitimizing him in the eyes of some revolutionaries.
Sabahi is considered the Nasserite of the two, with a clear stance against fostering ‘unnecessarily close ties’ with the United States and who has meanwhile been exploiting the ever popular and undeniably effective Pan Arab/Nationalist style campaign. Under both Sadat and Mubarak, Sabahi was detained and in 1992 and later became a cofounder of the Arab Nasserist Party. Later on, he fell out with the group and decided to form his own party in 2011 which subsequently fostered relations with the Muslim Brotherhood the following year. Once more shifting affiliations with the tide as the Ikhwan removed its mask, in 2013, Sabahi joined the National Salvation Front which was a secular coalition, including figures such as Mohamed Al Baradei, in protest against Morsi.
This two horse race will not result in a true democracy, but with the right candidate, will potentially allow Egypt some stability. Years of dictatorship and economic hardship have inhibited the evolution of a satisfying political reality and open, challenging discourse. A moment of peace will enable individuals to eventually bring themselves out of severe economic hardship leading to the development of their own form of democracy for the future. It is up to the individual whether or not it is worth voting out of these two candidates, but whomever Egyptians vote in, will have to rest on the side of caution if they wish to stay in office.