It's time for politicking

"You'll be late for the revolution!" - Some social science of the presidential elections:

Morsy is now trying to mobilise the revolutionary vote for him, and some (like the novelist Alaa El Aswany) are going along with that. But everything that the Brotherhood has done in the past year and so indicates that as soon as they gain power, they will drop, marginalise, and - if necessary - recklessly repress their former allies.

However tempted by an anti-Shafiq, pro-Morsi, vote, secular / progressive / revolutionary voters are in the second round, how many will actually do it in light of their perception of the MB's behavior in the last year? This is what the Brotherhood lost by some of its behavior over the last year, notably over the constitutional assembly and its refusal to seriously condemn crackdown on protestors: its claim to the leadership of the opposition. This is why Morsi's score, in most interpretations of the results, is seen as being against both the old regime and the revolutionaries: the Brotherhood is perceived as forming its own distinct group. Indeed, the prospect of a restoration of the old regime through Shafiq is not necessarily as terrifying to some to an unstable military-Brotherhood alliance like Sudan in the late 1980s (see how that ended?)

It is a tough dilemma: one might be tempted to block Shafiq by voting Morsi, but then think that Morsi will just turn around and negotiate with the army without any input from the "revolutionary" forces. I spoke about this to MB leader Khairat al-Shater the morning after the election; he seemed to think there was no need to bring in other candidates as VPs or promise them cabinet positions (or some policy impact) because even if their voters did not choose Morsi as their first choice, there is a reservoir of goodwill towards the MB among them.

But that's not how politics should work: candidates' endorsements should be in exchange of clear gains, most notably an actual position of influence in government (and in that case VP may not be the job to go for). Discussion of this in the Egyptian media makes it seems like it's some kind of dirty deal, but that's BS: the unlucky candidates that represent about 50% of the first round vote need to get something for their support. 

Update: While I think Hamdeen Sabahi should focus on his appeal for a recount and try to invalidate some of the Shafiq votes for now, his statement that he refuses any position under Morsi is non-sensical. The question should be what does he get from them — both personally and hopefully for what he thinks his voters represent. 

Random thoughts on early Egypt voting results

A few scattershot observations on Egypt's election results:

First -- voting behavior in transitional countries, when people's sense of political identity is still inchoate, is totally all over the place. What happened in "Islamist stronghold" Alexandria? Who are the Salafis For Sabahi?

Sabahi's surge notwithstanding, the run-off as of mid-afternoon still looks like it will be between the Brothers' Mohammed Mursi and ex-Mubarak prime minister Ahmed Shafiq. If Hamdeen repeats his Alex performance in Cairo this may change.

[Update: It's Mursi vs. Shafiq. Sabahi did do very well in Greater Cairo, taking first place there as well. But it's not good enough to offset Shafiq in Delta provinces like Sharqiya and Menufiya.]

However, regardless of who pulls ahead, the margins for second place look like they're going to be around one or two percentage points -- meaning that the top two names indicate more about the randomness injected into the race by the pre-vote disqualifications than they really say about voter preferences. If Omar Suleiman were still in the race, for example, Shafiq and he might be relegated to vote-splitting also-rans. If Abu Ismail were still around, maybe Mursi would be a distant third -- or, alternately, maybe Abul Futuh or even Sabahi would have slipped down a few notches.

Pre-vote polls had suggested that the Brothers had lost considerable support since their parliamentary triumph last year. For the past several weeks I've talked to a lot of ex-FJP supporters, who voted for Brothers for parliament because they thought the group really cared about the masses or "feared God" and would not be corrupt. But they have decided since then that the Brothers are politicians like everyone else. I had thought that the leitmotif of this election might be Brotherhood voters going for Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh (as a guy who speaks his mind) or for Amr Moussa (as a man with experience).

Actually, it looks like the leitmotif might be voters who went FJP for parliament but then didn't turn out at all on Wednesday and Thursday. People lost confidence in the Brothers. But the Brothers' excellent organization means that they still managed to produce enough pluralities where it counts.

[Based on final results, I see there was a big metropolis bias in my perception. Morsi's performance in Cairo was almost as bad as his performance in Alex. But he did very well in Upper Egypt.]

Some quick number crunching from jadaliyya.com's parliamentary summary and the excellent spreadsheet by @iyad_elbaghdadi and @GalalAmrG mirrored here by Moftasa. Math and errors are my own.

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