May 25, 2016

Flash: What, Me Pessimistic? Egyptian Election Outcome is Worse Than I Expected


Since last February I have predicted that the Muslim Brotherhood would win elections in Egypt. People have thought me very pessimistic. Now the votes are starting to come in and…it’s much worse than I thought. But my prediction that the Brotherhood and the other Islamists would gain a slight majority seems to have been fulfilled and then some. According to most reports the Brotherhood is scoring at just below 40 percent all by itself.

Why worse? For two reasons:

First, the votes we now have come from the most urban areas of the country. If there are Facebook sophisticates they’re going to be in Cairo and Alexandria. If the moderates do that bad in the big cities, what’s going to happen in the villages up the Nile? If the fascist party came in first in some European countries Social Democratic districts you know you are in trouble.

The Brotherhood came in first in Cairo and Alexandria. Think about that. Of course there are millions of migrants from rural areas in those places but that’s also where the middle class, such as it is, lives.

Second, the moderate parties didn’t even come in second they came in third or close to it. The Salafists—that is people who are even more radical than the Muslim Brotherhood—came in second. That they did that well is a surprise. That they did that well without bumping the Brotherhood down a notch is really shocking.

Estimates for the Justice Party, the Facebook kids of January are getting 5 to 10 percent. Even together with the other two main moderate parties that means the liberals won’t be able to block anything. Already the Brotherhood is tasting blood and talking about pressing the army junta to accelerate the turnover of power.

It’s hard to see, though that there can be any such transfer of power. The voting is far from finished and will be going on for about three months more, followed by a presidential election. Oh, yes, the results so far suggest that the Islamists will also win the presidency.

That’s when the fun really starts. President Barack Obama is going to face a challenge he is incapable of meeting since he doesn’t even understand what’s going on. He’s like a man who has been told that a ferocious lion is really a playful kitten and then tries to feed it by hand.

Read it all here.

About Barry Rubin

Prof. Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist for PajamasMedia at http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan)