A violent end

With the death toll now at eight, hundreds of wounded and more than 1300 Muslim Brotherhood supporters in jail, the end of election season is rather grim. It all looked so much more hopeful during the first round, which was carried out with minimal fraud and interference (but excessive vote buying.) Baheyya's collection of pictures more or less says it all.

The Brotherhood still got 12 more MPs elected, bringing the total to 88, and one really wonders whether all this mess was necessary to prevent them from getting closer to 100, considering that in any case it makes no difference to their power in parliament and only a little symbolic difference. The NDP has about 70% of parliament, more than enough, although nearly half of those seats come from "independents" who rejoined the NDP as soon as they were elected.

The state press, which had begun to be more even-handed in recent months, is today back to its bad old habits: unlike the independent papers, judges, election monitors and various foreign news agencies, it is claiming that Islamists were behind the violence, taking its cue from preposterous ministry of interior press releases that contain gems such as:

The incidents of violence witnessed during the election were the product of various candidates, in particular Islamists, and the strict neutrality of the security forces, so strict that they were even accused of 'passive neutrality'. These incidents required that security forces respond sternly to restore order and secure the electoral process, a position which was repeated in numerous statements by the Ministry of Interior. These statements went unheeded by various candidates and their supporters, in particular Islamists, who insisted on abusing the unprecedented climate of freedom which the country is witnessing.
Or:

These negative aspects should not divert attention from the concrete achievements of Egypt's political reform process which cannot be ignored by any objective and fair analysis of the election. They will not stall the process of reform or thwart our commitment to deepen democracy.
The effrontery of it all.

For more reporting see:

"Egypt slips down democracy ladder" (FT)

"Islamists build on gains in violent elections" and "Egypt ruling Party Wins Clear Majority" (Reuters)

"Police attack voters during last day of Egypt elections" (WP)

"Brotherhood Wins 12 Egypt Parliament Seats" (AP)
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.