For the most part, comments on the upcoming presidential elections in Egypt have dismissed the poll as farce and exposed the result as obvious given the limited resources available to the candidates standing against incumbent president Hosni Mubarak.
Past elections merely served to extend the presidential mandate. Whilst the result may be similar in this month’s polls, the methods will be markedly different. Mubarak has laid the foundations for a new era where elections will be fair and unpredictable with power deriving from the ballot box.
The upcoming vote, despite being derided in many quarters, is undoubtedly the best presidential elections Egypt has known in its history if we are to consider its regulations, procedures, implementation and the fierce competition through the national media.
Egypt is going to the polls after Iraq provided an alternative example for the Arab world; Egyptian voters were no longer going to accept voting for a single candidate. These elections carry important repercussions for the entire region and will change the way voting is conducted in other countries, such as Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen.
Undoubtedly, the upcoming elections will open a new chapter in the history of Egypt and the Arab world.
Whether Mubarak emerges victorious or not does undermine the importance and success of this month’s vote. The competition lacks the time and resources to successfully publicize itself, promote its political beliefs, and motivate others to vote for. Yet the mere fact the election features multiple candidate who have access to the national media to present their program is an undeniable success.
In the past, I had hopes that the President would allow real competition to feature in his country’s elections. The upcoming vote exceeds all my expectations especially as the election laws were modified. Mubarak can now cherish his historical role as the first democratically elected President in Egypt.