The Egyptian elections: A rush to democracy

Democracy, they say, is messy. And there's little doubt that Egyptians are making a mess of it. But then an attempted transition to civilian rule after a thirty year dictatorship was always going to be difficult.

Novices shouldn't be allowed to make it up as they go along and that's what's happened here.

They have been trying to elect a parliament and a president without a rulebook outlining goals and parameters. That's what a constitution is for, but they haven't written one yet.

Supporters of candidate Ahmed Shafiq Credit: Reuters

After the ousting of Mubarak people were understandably impatient, but in truth the elections came too soon. The only people who had the money and the organisation to run effectively were, at one end of the spectrum, those affiliated to the Mubarak regime, and at the other, their erstwhile enemies in the Muslim Brotherhood.

The parties trying to occupy the middle ground didn't have what it took to win and so now polar opposites, Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak's last Prime Minister, are fighting it out for the presidency.

Tahrir Square today Credit: Reuters

Alarmed by this state of affairs the military council has been clipping the wings of the job of president. Whoever is announced winner on Sunday won't be nearly as powerful as they thought they would be.

The Muslim Brotherhood are now occupying Tahrir Square and threatening a confrontation with the ruling generals if Mursi doesn't win.

Both he and Shafiq have claimed victory already and street protests seem inevitable whoever gets the nod officially.

But will those protests constitute a Revolution Part Two? It's doubtful. Neither presidential hopeful has the cross-community support that propelled the events of January last year.

The majority of Egyptians are likely to remain bystanders this time. They will lie low and crave the stability and certainty so far denied them.

Friday prayers in Tahrir Square today Credit: ITV news/ Sean Swan

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