Saturday, February 5, 2011

What Would An Egyptian Election Look Like?

By Barry Rubin

Obviously, we don't know but let me make a reasonable speculation:

Parliamentary Elections

Muslim Brotherhood and ElBaradei run on a joint ticket, win 60 percent

Regime group (whatever they call themselves) 30 percent

Left-wing parties: 5 percent

Good-government reformers (the idealistic people from the demonstrations) 5 percent

Presidential Elections

In the presidential elections, the most likely person to run against ElBaradei would be Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League and former foreign minister. Moussa is known for his strong anti-Israel stance (a popular song on this was written in his honor). Since ElBaradei is relatively unknown in Egypt and has been outside the country for three decades, one cannot rule out Moussa winning.

Since the Muslim Brotherhood would support El Baradei the anti-Islamists might rally to Moussa. From a domestic standpoint this would make a big difference if Moussa won. But in foreign policy it would be roughly comparable.

Most Likely Outcome:

ElBaradei wins. West argues ElBaradei tames Brotherhood! Hooray! U.S. aid continues.

Actual result: Brotherhood is cautious but uses ElBaradei to increase its power, move society toward Islamism, and push a radical and pro-Islamist foreign policy.

Alternative Outcome:

Amr Moussa wins as anti-Islamist forces unite and ElBaradei is a disappointing candidate who is seen as the American's man. It is quite possible that Moussa would use a strong anti-American element in his campaign.  Moussa is also the better politician. Th
Result: The Brotherhood is held at bay, which is good, but Egypt becomes much more radical internationally, very anti-Israel in its behavior, and antagonistic to the United States. Moussa is a demagogue and very mercurial. He is capable of the grand gesture and the emotional response. He could be real trouble.

I'd put it this way: A victory for ElBaradei is a long-run headache (with the Brotherhood getting stronger) and Moussa's victory is going to be an immediate migraine.

I reserve the right to alter this analysis but I think it is a reasonable one that tells us what we need to know.

I'd  be delighted to hear how others would (politely) argue this differently. I assume these focus mainly on whether the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate (which doesn't affect the likely election results) or much weaker than I think (they're wrong on that one.)

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