What's 'left' in the Egyptian presidential election?

News article, posted 04.16.2012, from Egypt, in:
Mohamed Elmeshad
What's 'left' in the Egyptian presidential election? (Photo: Al-Masry Al-Youm)

Since 10 potential candidates were disqualified from the presidential election on Saturday, including three anticipated frontrunners, Egypt’s electoral landscape has been dramatically altered.

One thing that hasn’t changed with Saturday’s development is that Islamists and Mubarak regime figures still dominate the presidential election scene, while the left and other revolutionary forces have been relegated to the periphery. Most analysts and political actors agree that the coming period offers a plethora of possibilities and scenarios for these forces to shape the Egyptian presidency. However, this role will be supportive at best.

“This very moment is when all revolutionary groups must realize it’s not a revolutionary moment. It’s a juncture and a time to look back and decide how to move forward,” says Mostafa Kamel al-Sayed, a political science professor at Cairo University and the American University in Cairo. And many reckon that the presidential election is no battle for the left.

Omar Suleiman, former intelligence chief and vice president, Khairat al-Shater, a leading Muslim Brotherhood senior adviser, and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a populist Salafi preacher-turned-lawyer, have all been disqualified. Despite the narrowed field, most would agree that the leftist candidates officially running will remain on the fringe.

If the disqualifications stand, Mohamed Morsy will replace Shater as the Brotherhood candidate. Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq — who recently called Mubarak his role model — will also be a major competitor, as a former regime figure and anti-agent for change. And former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, also considered a frontrunner, is considered by many to be a Hosni Mubarak man by virtue of having served as his foreign minister in the past.

All disqualified candidates have not conceded, and have released statements announcing their intentions to contest the ruling and carry on their campaigns.


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