Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Egypt: We’ve Heard What the Majority Thinks

BIALYSTOCK: “Maybe it's not true!”
BLOOM: (mumbling): “No way out.  No way out.”
BIALYSTOCK: “Why don't we go over to the theatre and see what's really happening? After all, we've only heard from a small portion of the audience. Let's hear what the majority thinks.”
BLOOM (in a trance): “The majority.  The majority. Yes. Let's hear from the majority.”
--“The Producers” (1968)

“What should be clear to the Brotherhood…is that most Egyptians have no interest in swapping Mubarak’s secular dictatorship for a religious one. --New York Times editorial, December 2011

By Barry Rubin

Let’s figure out what the voting in Egypt means in concrete terms. Here's what we have so far in the first round of voting in one-third of Egypt:

Muslim Brotherhood                                                    37 percent
Al-Nour (Salafist)                                                        25 percent
Egyptian bloc (mainly the Free Egyptian party)               14 percent
Wafd (moderate but open to coalition w/Brotherhood)      8 percent
Al-Wast (Moderate Muslim party)                                    4 percent

Most important, 112 seats in the lower house of parliament were distributed, between 20 and 25 percent of the total, along the following lines:

Muslim Brotherhood                       46
Al-Nour (Salafist)                           28
Egyptian bloc                                 16
Wafd                                              8
al-Wasat                                         5
other                                              9
tota;                                            112

First, let’s note that these elections will include a second round for unresolved races for parliament's lower house, voting for the upper house, and will continue until March. But there is no reason to believe that future rounds will be different. Indeed, the Islamist might do even better.

Second, the third largest party is the Egyptian bloc which consists mainly of the Free Egyptian Party along with smaller leftist and liberal parties and much of its vote comes from Christians, meaning that the proportion of Egyptian Muslims who voted for Islamist parties is even higher than it appears, say 80 percent by the end of the elections.

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