Why Sisi hasn't announced yet

There has been a lot of speculation lately over what is holding up the seemingly impending announcement of Field Marshall Abdel Fattah El Sisi's presidential campaign. Commentators and analysts have been -- rather un-persuasively -- reading the tea leaves of the latest cabinet re-shuffle (which retained Sisi as Minister of Defense and Mohamed Ibrahim as the Minister of Interior while shedding most of the "liberal" ministers that had given the June 30th coalition some credibility) and of recent presidential decree making the minister of defense, rather than the president, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. All that has been clear to me is that there is an awful lot of behind-the-scenes maneuvering and some trepidation before this big step. Thank goodness, though, Egyptian tabloid El Watan can reveal the real reasons behind the delay (the following is an abridged translation of the article): 

Intelligence sources have revealed to El Watan that Sisi will make the announcement around March 10-12, after the new law regulating presidential elections is issued. He will tell the public the reasons for his delay, which are: 1) the need to detect and foil plans by the Muslim Brotherhood, some Western countries, Turkey and Qatar, to commit terrorist attacks following Sisi's announcement 2) genuine fears that the Field Marshall will be personally targeted, after the detection of such plans on the part of the American intelligence services and those of some neighboring countries 3) putting the final touches on the international and regional alliance Sisi is shaping to face the American moves in the region, and which consists of Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, to face the Western alliance headed by America and including the United Kingdom, France, Turkey and Qatar. The sources revealed that Egypt is lobbying the Chinese dragon to join its alliance. 

Only room for one general

 

There has been much media focus lately on the ongoing, growing campaign to get defense minister and commander of the armed forces Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to run for president -- a bandwagon on which we can expect see many more flatterers and opportunists jump. El-Sisi's candid discussion with other officers on how Egyptian need to get used to paying more for services and talk on the phone less, how the army can get the media to practice some self-censorhip, and how military personnel will never be held responsible for killing protesters were recently leaked, and seen as evidence of his nefarious dictatorial tendencies by Islamists and of his economic genius and straight-talking by army supporters. 

 It is also instructive to see the reaction to another possible military contender. Nour Youssef has this report. 

While it is generally good to be a soldier rather than another weakling civilian in Egypt, it has not been so for former Chief of Staff General, Sami Anan.

After news of Anan’s announcement of his run for president spread, and despite it being followed by a quick denial, the pro-military media began airing his dirty laundry and then tried to suffocate him with the clotheslineSo far Anan, aka  The Bringer of the Brotherhood (or at the very least:  Key Person Who Helped Make Mistakes That Lead To MB Rule), has been accused of having an under-qualified son as head of the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport, wasting state land (200 acres of it by Cairo-Alexandria desert road on himself and his wife), having grandchildren born in the US for the citizenship, buying a whole floor in a fancy hotel, among other things.

Although many, like Mahmoud Saad, perfunctorily expressed their respect for Anan's constitutional right to run before all but telling him not to, much of the talk about Anan has been focused on his newly published memoirs and his past.

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Insulting the president

More 'insulting president' lawsuits under Morsi than Mubarak - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online

I have a hard time believing this but Gamal Eid is a serious guy:

There were four times as many 'insulting the president' lawsuits during President Mohamed Morsi's first 200 days in office than during the entire 30-year reign of former president Hosni Mubarak. This is the claim made by Gamal Eid, human rights lawyer and executive director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).

Moreover, the number of such lawsuits during the Morsi era is more than during the entire period dating back to 1909 when the law was introduced (originally for 'insulting the king'), Eid said via Twitter.

They will have a full report on it tomorrow with the list of names.

The president, the prosecutor, and the press

Over the weekend in Egypt, as if the fighting that took place in Tahrir Square between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood (or impostors) and their detractors was not enough, a major institutional type of Mortal Kombat also took place between, on the one side, President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, and on the other, Prosecutor-General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud and the judicial establishment. On the latter’s side — out of convenience as much as principle, as Mahmoud is not a popular figure — were secular political parties who seized on this to denounce what they saw as the Brother-President’s all-out attack on the rule of law.

If you haven’t been following this story, here’s the lowdown.

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Eric Schewe's map of the presidential election results

Eric Schewe's map of the Egyptian presidential election results

The above map of from Eric Schewe's blog, which has some great analysis of the presidential election and much else. It's a great blog for Egypt nerds. He writes of the map and the data behind it:

The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood count from June 18 and the official state count were so close gives me confidence that, while votes may have been illegitimately influenced by actions outside the polling booth, that the polls themselves were relatively fairly conducted. This means this body of data is the first reliable indication ever of Egyptians’ preferences over a very stark binary choice for the direction of the state: Islamism or “Feloul” (old-regime) revanchism. Obviously, many Egyptians went out to vote AGAINST either choice, but the geographical distribution of the result shows very strong regional tendencies, raising interesting questions about voters’ overall motives.

Getting this kind of data and spreading will lead, over time, in a quantum leap in how we understand Egyptian politics. Of course it needs to be combined with new data added over time and knowledge of local-level dynamics. But at long last, we have a base based on an electoral process that was reasonably free and fair.

Muslim Brotherhood Tallies and Keeping Egypt Honest

Last week's anxiety-ridden wait for the winner of the Egyptian presidential election to be declared was perceived by many as a game of shadow boxing between SCAF and the MB — whereby the former put pressure on the latter or gave itself the option of rigging the election for Ahmed Shafiq. As many have noted, only the MB could have had the national organization to collect the tallies of votes polling station by polling station, raising the question of whether the regime could have gotten away with rigging the elections if Aboul Fotouh or Sabahi had been in the runoff against Shafiq. Contributor Bilal Ahmed sent in his thoughts on the matter.

My initial skepticism regarding the Morsi presidency has faded in light of his announced victory. I was wondering if the nearly 800,000 votes that were voided would change the election results, but the commission reiterated the Muslim Brotherhood’s announcement last week. Egypt’s first president after the revolution is Mohamed Morsi.

The most striking thing about these elections, and probably one of its most important lasting effects, is the accuracy of the independent tallies conducted by the Muslim Brotherhood and its political faction the Freedom and Justice Party. There is no other organized political force in Egypt with the resources to accurately conduct polling at all of Egypt’s 16 000 polling stations, and the MB has not squandered its opportunity to occupy this role.

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President Morsi (for sure this time.)

I was in the train between Brussels and Paris when, twitching like a maniac as I pressed refresh on the Twitter app on my iPad and grumbled about the endless speech by Presidential Election Commission head Farouq Sultan, Mohammed Morsi's victory was announced. The celebration in Tahrir and elsewhere shows many Egyptians are delighted at the news, or at least for some at Ahmed Shafiq's defeat. They are right to be enthusiastic: a Shafiq victory would have been a disaster for most Egyptians, a signal for the resurrection of the police state, and considering that the victory would have been considered stolen by many, probably the cause of much bloodshed.

But what of a Morsi victory? At the symbolic level, it is important: Morsi is the first democratically elected Islamist president of the Arab world, and also Egypt's first civilian president. His victory signals the defeat, for now, of the felool and the patronage networks of the Mubarak regime.

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In Translation: The SCC's verdicts

We've had the linguistic gnomes at Industry Arabic working overtime this weekend to translate the verdicts dissolving parliament and declaring the Political Exclusion Law unconstitutional issued by Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court this weekend. They plowed through the legalese and given us this  —a full translation of the verdicts, available in PDF [334kb, original Arabic version here.]. They even highlighted in yellow some of more significant passages.

Below I am excerpting the reasoning of disbanding parliament because members of political parties were allowed to run for the individual candidacy (aka simple majority of first-past-the-post) seats:

There is no doubt that establishing this competition had a definite impact and reciprocal effect on the two-thirds allocated for closed party lists, since if political parties were not competing with independents over that other portion, then a rearrangement would have taken place within the party lists, taking into account the priorites within each party. Furthermore, political party members had the choice between two ways to run for the People's Assembly, the closed party-list system and the individual candidacy system. Independents were deprived of one of these ways, and their rights were limited to the portion allotted for the individual candidacy system, in which political party members also competed.

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Notes from the field on the presidential elections

Dr. Omar Ashour emails in with his notes from the field:

Dear all,

Some thoughts form the field:

  1. The general feeling among youth movements and many pro-change voters is that Shafiq is coming for revenge. This feeling intensified after the arrest of April 6th members and what the police officers told them (“revolution is dead” “we are back to hang you on lampposts” etc…)
  2. The major irregularity in this election is playing with the voters database. It is held only by the presidential elections committee (who refuse to give it up). After many complaints in the first round, the committee removed 115k names (including the name of my dead grandma, who apparently voted in the first round!). This number is based on their review and there is no other way to re-check it. The names of the dead, expats, police and army personnel can be much higher on the database than 115,000.
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The sadness of Egypt's presidential election

IMG_2133 

Above, a picture of a voter by Nehal ElSherif, on Flickr — via Elijah Zarwan who comments "He looks like you just caught him selling out his conscience."

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros writes:

As I was crashing to make the deadline for my elections piece on the first day of voting, I trawled through the raw pictures the cameraman had collected from various polling stations looking for that classic woman-holding-up-purple-finger-and-smiling shot.

I didn't find it. There were lots of purple fingers (the ink stain you get showing you've voted) but nobody held theirs up to the cameraman with pride, the hallmark shot of previous election days.

There is a distinct lack of energy or enthusiasm surrounding this vote. It's safe to predict that most of those eligible to vote will not cast their ballots this time around - a mixture of apathy, confusion and active boycott.

There are of course those who tell me they are voting Mohamed Morsi or Ahmed Shafik out of conviction but ask a few more questions and you'll find the conviction is more about the other not winning than belief in the candidate they are voting for.

For many others, the deep seated depression surrounding the vote comes from the realization that whoever wins, it's the military rulers or SCAF that will end up running the country.

February 12th was not the start of a transition to democracy, it was a military takeover.

Yes, it was a military takeover. One many hoped would end the chaos mostly promoted by the security services in their panic, and that could provide a safe transition back to civilian rule. The mistake was to trust them. In this election, SCAF gets to define the powers of the president depending on which candidate wins.

On another note, I am rather tired (and know many others who also are) of the purple-finger chasing craze that started with the Iraqi election. There's no need to go to polling stations. The fraud, if there is any, will be way too subtle to be detected by wandering through. The fraud in this election is not necessarily in the electoral process, it's in the electoral context and the meta-politics of this "transition."

The MB and SCAF after the elections

SCAF, Brotherhood in talks over post-election cooperation: Sources - Ahram Online:

The Brotherhood leadership, according to sources who spoke to Ahram Online, is hoping to clinch the top position in the next government, should Mubarak-era premier and presidential finalist Ahmed Shafiq beat Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi in this week's runoff vote.

"Deep down, nobody is expecting Mursi to win; it has become very clear that the SCAF is supporting Shafiq," said a Muslim Brotherhood source. "We don’t want to get into a confrontation, but we want to make sure that Shafiq won't be running the state in the absence of revolutionary forces – this is why we want a strong presence in the next government."

A former associate of El-Shater who previously defected from the Brotherhood told Ahram Online: "Khairat El-Shater is a realistic and pragmatic man. He knows that Mursi's electoral prospects are slim, and that the chances of the Brotherhood making its presence felt will be much better if it comes via the government rather than the presidency, in which case Mursi would be confronted by all top state bodies, including the SCAF itself."

According to this article, the chief connection here is between Gen. Sami Enan and al-Shater. When I met Shater after the first round, he seemed depressed and fatalistic about how the election is rigged against the MB. But Shafiq's promise to appoint a MB-led cabinet (which he stands by despite his repeated attacks on the group as a force for darkness) and SCAF's encouragement of such a step makes it likely that the MB will simply live with the cabinet, and especially the PM's position, if it loses the presidential election.

All of this confirms my take on the Morsi-Shafiq runoff: it's an existential crisis for the felool — the remnants of the NDP, establishment power networks, parts of the security services — which stand to lose all access and be subject to further judicial reckoning if Morsi wins. But it's not as much as an existential crisis for the MB if Shafiq wins, because they don't believe Shafiq will institute a crackdown against them (others will suffer first), because they think they will retain control of parliament, and because they think ultimately they can deal with Shafiq and SCAF. I think that's a miscalculation, but it's coherent with their past behavior and deal-making inclinations. 

In Translation: Houdaiby on why back Morsi

Our In Translation series is made possible by Industry Arabic, purveyors of fine translation services. Whether it’s a press article or a 100-page legal document, these guys can turn around a translation in a range of European languages in no time. Give them a try.

I first met Ibrahim Houdaiby years ago, probably around 2005, when he was still a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a young protégé of Khairat al-Shater. More than anyone at the time, he articulated the extent to which the Kifaya protests of 2005 and the solidarity showed by these new activists with Islamist activists at that time were crucial in finding common ground across the political spectrum to oppose the Mubarak regime. Houdaiby, who comes from a family that has produced two General Guides of the Muslim Brotherhood, a few years later decided to end his membership of the group. He also began to write in various venues, gradually forming an elaborate insider’s critique of the contemporary Islamist scene in Egypt.

For some, Houdaiby represents the intellectual cutting edge of “reformist” or “moderate” Islamist current in Egypt. I think it’s more accurate to say that he represents an important advocate for a historic reconciliation between progressives and religious conservatives who agree on the need to fight the regime, as well as a call for the revival and self-critique of Egyptian Islamist thought. Being still a young man, I have no doubt his thinking will evolve into a more profound challenge to Islamist thought in Egypt from a religious perspective — perhaps the development of an “Islamic left” perspective that we see slowly grow across from the region against the orthodoxies of Saudi-backed fundamentalism, the lack of intellectual vitality of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt at least, and the insufficiencies of the secular critics.

In the article below, he makes an impassioned case for an alliance between the Brotherhood and revolutionary forces against a restoration of the Mubarak regime represented by Ahmed Shafiq. I think he makes a good case.

We shall be saved or perish all together

By Ibrahim Houdaiby, al-Shorouk, 8 June 2012

The Muslim Brotherhood is in need of all the political factions in order to succeed in the election, and it needs them to take part in running the country afterwards, just as these factions need the MB in order to forestall a complete reversion to the Mubarak regime. If these various actors do not realize that, they will all face disaster.

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Why accept these elections?

As I write these lines, a large group of people angry with the decision of the Egyptian Presidential Election Commission's decision to dismiss allegations of (massive) fraud in favor of candidate Ahmed Shafiq have ransacked set fire to his Cairo HQ, and more are protesting in Tahrir Square and in Alexandria. Only a few thousands have come out so far, but there are calls for larger protests tomorrow and Friday.

I can't say I particularly blame them.

The question is not really anymore whether there was massive fraud, or only minor violations as the PEC stated today. Its ruling is not appealable, it has a past record of dubious decisions, and it behaved suspiciously by distributing last minute supplementary voter lists and blocking access to observers to counting rooms. The PEC had no credibility even before the vote was cast for many people who are unhappy with the results.

The real question is to what extent will the political leaders that supposedly represent the protestors will push the delegitimization of the elections, and how the Muslim Brotherhood (which has alleged fraud but not filed any complaints, perhaps afraid to lose its spot on the runoff) will position itself between the protest movement and the state.

The revolutionaries were right that no constitution should be written, and no election held, under the rule of generals who served Hosni Mubarak. They didn't care about the current interim constitution because it itself has little legitimacy, and the transition has been so mangled as to barely make sense anymore. They never received much backing from political leaders, however (including Aboul Fotouh and Sabbahi until now, since they have rejected the PEC's ruling), unless you count Mohamed ElBaradei's boycott of the election and rejection of the transition process (but he too only half-heartedly called on the generals to step down). The politicians were afraid to alienate the good part of the population that doesn't want to take that risk of confronting the state head on, as well as jeopardize their own position in the emerging order. I don't know whether they'll change their minds now, but one would think the moment is ripe  — even if this leads to no concrete gain and probably much pain, the seeds of delegitimization of the future regime will have been laid.

Aboul Fotouh and Sabbahi are mediocre candidates — the former is quite shallow and too much a product of the Brotherhood to be the transformative politician he claims to be, the latter stuck in the morass of Nasserism and has a dubious past of links to Saddam, Qadhafi, and a present position towards the Syrian civil war ("it's an international conspiracy," he says) that is classic fourth-rate Arab paranoid populism. But someone needs to rise to the occasion here and reject this electoral process outright (Aboul Fotouh and Khaled Ali have). If you're going to lose, you might as well drag others down with you — in this case, the PEC, the SCAF, and the (officially) winning candidates. It's just good politics.

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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The early results are in... and it's not good

(This was written earlier this morning, to be updated).

With about half of the polling stations reported, it looks like Egypt's presidential elections will go to a second round between Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and former general Ahmed Shafiq. This is the most polarizing outcome possible, and is particularly unfortunate as the other candidates are not trailing too far from these two poll leaders — Aboul Fotouh and Sabbahi in particular amount together for about 40% of the vote, while Mursi is unlikely to get much higher than 30%. More about this later — I have to run off to a meeting but wanted to signal some good sources of info and raw data:

ArcGIS - EgyptVote2012 - a GIS color mapping of Mursi, Shafiq and Aboul Fotouh votes (click the middle icon on the sidebar for details and to cycle through the candidates).

#EgyPresElex - Google Docs - Iyad al-Baghdadi's amazing effort to note the results as they come in, per governorate.

And finally pics from Jonathan Rachad from the election itself:

My belated take on Egypt's elections

I have been incredibly busy in the last month, and then traveling and taking a break over the last week away from all the electoral folly, hence this blog has provided scant coverage of Egypt’s presidential election thus far. I hope to correct this in the next few days — and in any case there’s plenty of commentary elsewhere — and provide some opinion about the way this election might go.

But first, a few words about the big picture — what this election means and how to situate it in the post-Mubarak era. At a very simple level, this election is the beginning of the end of the transition period (if defined as return to civilian government). Its outcome will be a new president for Egypt, and — apart from the writing of a new constitution — the bizarre interregnum launched by the referendum on constitutional amendments that took place in March 2011, a little over a month after Mubarak stepped down. The electoral process is attracting a lot of media frenzy inside and outside Egypt, and a not inconsiderable (if often mixed) level of enthusiasm among Egyptians, since it is the first election in which the outcome is not obvious to all. No doubt turnout will be high, and hopefully the voting process itself not too flawed since one would think the military regime now in charge can’t afford to blatantly rig the poll. But, globally, we’ll see Egyptians excited about having a real choice before them rather than an obvious outcome, and a real sense of uncertainty about who might win.

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Googling Egypt's candidates

Google's Egypt elections doodle

Friend-of-the-blog Gabriel Koehler-Derrick does some really neat stuff with Google to track prominent personalities in religious currents, politics, and society in the Middle East. In this commentary he sent us, Gabriel looks at Google as an alternative indication of the popularity (or interest in) the various candidates in the Egyptian presidential elections. A PDF version of this article, which includes graphs that are tricky to transpose to the web, is here (275kb).

With the approach of Egypt’s presidential elections on Wednesday, a variety of polls have been published trying to anticipate the outright winner, or at least identify which two candidates are capable of winning enough votes to force a runoff election.  Given the challenges associated with polling in Egypt, the historic nature of the election, and a confusing series of legal rulings that have dramatically shaken up the field of contestants, it is not surprising that the outcome remains unclear.  While far from perfect, data from internet search trends suggest a far less ambiguous outcome: Amr Moussa is comfortably in the lead and Muhammad Morsi is the candidate most likely to face him should there be a runoff. 

Anyone familiar with the telecommunications industry in Egypt might question the utility of using data derived from internet searches to better understand political developments.  While internet penetration rates have grown impressively, according to a recent survey conducted by A.C. Nielsen for Google’s MENA office, only about 39% of Egyptians have “regular access” (defined in the survey as logging in once a month) to the internet.  The data from the A.C. Nielsen survey also show that Egypt’s community of internet users are disproportionately male, and younger than average, with the 15 to 24 and 25 to 34 age cohorts being particularly well represented.  To the best of my knowledge, credible statistics about the income and education level of Egypt’s internet users are not publically available, but it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to presume that typical internet users are skewed towards urban areas, and better educated and significantly wealthier than national averages. Because of these challenges, data derived from internet searches cannot be considered statistically representative of the Egyptian population.  

Despite these drawbacks, internet search data enjoys a number of advantages for examining the presidential race.  First, the number of data points for any time period is huge.  A back of the envelope calculation, based on the Nielsen survey and some basic population data from the UN, suggests that in Egypt, Google gets almost 26 million searches a day. While only a tiny fraction of these searches are politically related, nine out of the “top 10 rising people” in Google’s 2011 Zeitgeist survey of Egypt’s search trends were connected to the revolution or politics more broadly, indicating just how influential political developments in 2011 were  on search trends in Egypt. By way of comparison, none of the “top 10 rising people searches” in Turkey has anything to do with politics, and only one of the “top 10 rising people searches” in Canada , former leader of the National Democratic Party (NDP) Jack Layton.  Data from Google AdWords, provides an updated 30-day average of the number of searches for a given term, shows some impressive averages for each of the top presidential contenders.  This is crucial because it provides a sense of scale for the Insights for Search data cited below, which uses normalized results not raw numbers to plot the trend lines for the various candidates.

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