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.
As I write, Egyptians are voting in the second day of run offs. Unofficial results are expected to start trickling in Sunday night and by Monday morning we will have a clear idea of who Hosni Mubarak’s successor is.
We may also know what his powers will be. The SCAF have been in intense meetings with “legal experts” in an effort to create a annex to the Constitutional Declaration (a document that the SCAF wrote and passed unilaterally last year, and from which they draw their authority). The annex to their Declaration will set out the powers of the President – presumably the SCAF are prepared for two eventualities, a Morsi or Shafik presidency.
Effectively, this means the next President could have more powers than Mubarak did, or be a total lame duck – it’s up to the SCAF. Which powers they reserve for themselves is also in their hands.
You could argue this annex is only temporary, until a new constitution is written. But the SCAF is also expected to take over the process of creating the Constituent Assembly (100 member body in charge of writing the new constitution). This was meant to be the task of the Parliament, arguably the only actual power it had. But the parliament was suddenly dissolved on Thursday, leaving the SCAF with that task – and all the others entrusted to the parliament.
The next Egyptian President will be elected with no constitution, no parliament….nothing but a set of rules made up by the unelected military rulers.
While many, including the media, fixate on a battle between the Muslim Brotherhood and Mubarak’s man – what is determining Egypt’s future is not happening at the polls.