Egypt’s presidential balloting has concluded and the vote counting has started. That’s likely to take a little while. There are a lot of good things worth reading while you are waiting for results. Brian Katulis’ preview is a good place to start. He offers a primer of issues, candidates and the uncertainties of the future political process.
Katulis says little about the electoral mechanism, whose integrity is uncertain. A great deal depends on the electorate viewing the results as legitimate. The nitty-gritty detail of campaiging, balloting and vote counting can be excruciatingly technical, but important nonetheless. The campaign during the first round has been rough and tumble, but most seem to view it as free and fair, with violations around the margins. The balloting appears to have proceeded in a mostly orderly way, without widespread intimidation or other efforts to affect voters. The turnout appears to have been low, at a little over 40%. Counting is the most sensitive, and often least transparent, part of the process. Let’s hope it goes smoothly.
Tarek Masoud offers a more philosophical reflection:
In the face of this uncertainty—about who will win and about what he’ll be able to do once in office—most of us who write about Egypt have been reduced to platitudinous celebrations of Egypt’s first free presidential contest, lamentations of the hard road that Egypt’s future president has before him, and shopworn declarations of how Egyptian politics has changed utterly. Sometimes, the best we can do is just watch.
That’s not bad advice, so I am going to say ditto to his platitudinous celebrations and sit back to await the results. We won’t know who becomes president until after the second round of voting on June 16-17. Watching a country vote in a serious election with an unknown outcome for the first time in its many thousand-year history is a fine spectator sport. Let’s savor it.