The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

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.

The MB results for the Egyptian revolutionary parliament seven months ago and the first round of presidential elections at the end of May were more or less in line with the final election results. The results that were announced for the Morsi/Shafiq contest this morning only differed from the MB figures by about 0.06%, which ranks this election among the least manipulated in Egyptian history. Through this successful organizing, the MB has successfully implanted an idea in the media and political consciousness where its results can be trusted as accurate figures. This makes it difficult for manipulation to occur on a state level, as defying the Muslim Brotherhood figures now makes voter fraud much more evident.

Given the thousands of people who flocked into Tahrir Square and staged sit-ins when voting results were delayed last week, this is a severe political risk for institutions attempting to preserve their Mubarak-era privilege.

Last week’s announcement of victory at Morsi’s campaign headquarters put massive pressure on senior officials to not consider tampering with election results and cause a Shafik presidency. This pressure was felt in Tahrir Square as equally as it was in the Obama Administration, which announced that it would reconsider its lucrative military assistance package to Egypt if power was not handed to a civilian government. It is true that in all likelihood, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is satisfied with a Morsi executive that is stripped of its power, but its obvious preference for Ahmed Shafiq was made much more difficult the moment that the MB’s independent exit polls announced this morning’s results.

It may seem odd to state in a political climate where many revolutionaries don’t trust the MB and its FJP candidates, but the Muslim Brotherhood electoral results are trustworthy. It may, in fact, be the most trustworthy part of the entire organization and its most positive contribution to the ongoing Egyptian revolution. The Muslim Brotherhood now officially has a reputation of offering a source of accurate electoral information that minimizes the chance of voter fraud. If the Muslim Brotherhood continues to use its vast organizing network to conduct the equivalent of reliable exit polling (ed. note: to be precise, the MB gathered the certified tallies, signed by judges, at every polling station) at Egypt’s 16,000 voting stations during every major election, then Egyptian political culture will gradually begin to shift away from the infamous rigging of the Mubarak regime.