Inside Story
Is Egypt's revolution under threat?
As the result of the first round of the presidential election sparks anger, we ask if the revolution is being derailed.
Last Modified: 30 May 2012 10:54

Protests and anger have followed the first round of Egypt's presidential election.

The race is now down to two men - Ahmad Shafiq and Mohammed Morsi.

"What you have is a 50 per cent angry middle, who abstained from this last round of [the] election because they did not like the alternative …but there is a learning curve that the Egyptians are going through."

- Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the founder of the Ibn Khaldun Centre for Development Studies

Morsi, a Muslim brotherhood candidate, and Shafiq, a former prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, will face each other in a runoff vote next month.

The first round revealed a fragmented Egyptian electorate, with Morsi taking 24.3 per cent of the votes and Shafiq trailing close behind at 23.3 per cent.

The results have led to protests across Egypt. Thousands took to the streets of Cairo and Alexandria in the hours after the announcement. On Monday night, protesters burned Shafiq's campaign offices.

It appears Egyptians now have a stark choice between a former military man with links to a regime they fought so hard to remove, and a candidate whose message appeals to some, but makes others among the country's 82 million people uneasy.

Both contenders will be manoeuvring to win support from the candidates they defeated.

"The majority of Egyptians did not vote for the Islamists nor the former air force commander nor the centrist or Nasserite candidates. There is a real pluralism developing in the public sphere in Egypt which is something that is quite historic, at least in the last three generations."

- Rami Khouri, the director of Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy

Morsi has already said that he wants to reach out to the other presidential candidates and revolutionary groups in an attempt to counter the unexpected challenge presented by Shafiq. He will also want support from Abdel Moneim Aboul Fatouh, who garnered support from a broad base of religious moderates, Salafis and revolutionaries.

But as things stand now, neither Aboul Fatouh nor Nasserite candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, who came third, have endorsed a candidate. And many leftists and liberals have threatened to boycott the runoff altogether.

As for Shafiq, he may well have a hard time trying to convince potential partners and voters of his revolutionary credentials - especially given his links to the old regime. But he will likely try to capitalise on fears of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood becoming president.

Inside Story asks: Where does all this leave the Egyptian transition to democracy? And is Egypt's revolution in danger?

Joining presenter Dareen Abughaida are guests: Ahmed Naguib, the co-founder and spokesman for the Council of Trustees of the Revolution in Egypt and a member of the Al-Tayyar Al-Masry political party; Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the founder and head of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies and a visiting professor at Harvard University; and Rami Khouri, the editor-at-large for Lebanon's Daily Star, the director of Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and a professor at the American University of Beirut.

"The real trick was that the military council forced the [Muslim] Brotherhood to field a candidate for presidency because they denied them the cabinet."

Ahmed Naguib, a member of Al-Tayyar Al-Masry party

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