Voters return to the polls in the final phase of parliamentary elections, which have thus far been dominated by Islamist parties, with the Muslim Brotherhood seeking a majority to form a unity government.
Despite Western liberal perspective on the current rounds of elections, the Islamist parties have captured around 71% of votes, perplexing such liberals that view the Islamist parties as restrictive. It is true that the Islamist parties advocate restricted freedoms but the Islamist parties hold true to the religious values of the domestic populace, as well as giving voice to the peoples’ wide-spread grievances through their grassroots campaigning. So saying, Selectorate theory effectively explains the election results that seem to be an abnormality to Westerners. Selectorate Theory implies that a democracy has a large winning coalition, as they must appease a large majority of the population to remain in power. Egypt, long repressed under dictator Mubarak, is voicing its determination for change and a government that reflects their values. They are not willing to remain silent as the military junta returns the country to a dictatorial rule; rather, the return of riots and demonstrations clearly illustrates the supposed “silent majority” being vocal in their grievances and calling for a government that they have fought for. For these reasons, the Islamist parties are vindicated in their efforts to empower the people during the months of riots, as they are the parties that are seen as representative of the people and representative of the values that they have for so long fought for. Evidently, these parties will stride onward and forward throughout the last rounds of elections as they remain symbolic to the long months of bloodshed and sacrifice by the Egyptians.
“Under the former regime, my ballot was already marked for me. I’ve come here today, knowing that my vote will count. I’ve voted for the Muslim Brotherhood. They have the experience in running politics and I am convinced they will start implementing serious reforms.” – Fawzi Mohamed, pensioner
The Islamist parties are the best organized political parties. During Mubarak’s regime, the government cracked down on any form of organized dissent and civil society groups were virtually non-existent. Currently, the military junta is also responsible for waging an increasingly violent crackdown of protesters. Last week, soldiers raided 10 pro-democracy and election monitoring organization, including 3 US groups. Nonetheless, the mosque is the sole refuge for political opponents of ruling regimes, granting the Islamist parties leverage. The Islamist have used the cover afforded by mosques to increase their outreach in society and these networks have effectively educated voters about their parties and ensuring they get to the ballot box. In a country with no democratic experience, the campaign was not about concrete political issues. The electorate voted for symbols and slogans rather than political programs. Islamist emphasized that they speak for God and His Prophet, the two most powerful points of reference in the Muslim constellation. They emphasized the striking contrast between purity of Islam and the corruption of secular political in Egypt since its independence.
Most effective throughout the events has been the Muslim Brotherhood through its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), a group that has stood resilient since its founding in 1928. Egyptians have backed the Muslim Brotherhood largely because it opposed the former regime. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood boast that the organization has been an opposition party since its founding, remaining anti-establishment. Moreover, emphasizing their long-term opposition status, the Muslim Brotherhood has highlighted their political experience. Many voters desire a veteran party with the skills to solve the country’s economic and social problems.
“The party’s winning of the majority in the new parliament does not mean going it alone in writing the constitution without consideration for the rights of other Egyptians, or ignoring the political forces which did not get a majority or failed in the parliamentary elections. All political forces and intellectuals in Egypt, regardless of their political religious allegiances, will take part in writing the constitutions.” – Mohamed Mursi, head of the Freedom and Justice Party
Egypt’s military rulers said Sunday that the election process will be sped up following clashes in Cairo. Protesters have called for a quicker transition to civilian rule. Under the guidelines established by Egypt’s interim military rulers, the elections for the People’s assembly, the lower house of parliament, began on the 28th. The election process for the lower house will take place in different administrative districts in December and January. Each district will have two days of voting. Elections for the Shura, the upper house, begin on January 29th and will end in March. The newly elected assembly will then write a new constitution. The ruling military junta says a presidential election will be held before July 2012. The voting will pace the way for Egypt’s transfer to civilian rule.