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Elect a Vice President Too! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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From my perspective, the crucial point in the forthcoming Egyptian elections is not the choice of the president but rather the choice of his deputy. For that reason, I wonder why no vice president is standing for election with a presidential candidate for the next Egyptian presidential elections, due to take place on 4 September 2005. Is it because the Egyptian constitution does not allow this or is it that Egyptians only aspire to fulfill the presidential role and not that of vice president?

Personally, I have always felt that the second man is more important than the first. To understand this more clearly, imagine the situation in a queue at the local post office or at the embassy, for example. The first in line of that queue who heads to the counter to complete his task is hardly noticed. The next in line however, is observed by others as he or she awaits their turn. This person knowing they are next proudly walks to the counter as all eyes are focused on them. It is for this reason that I always like to be next, not first.

Despite the beauty of being the next man, across the whole of Egypt no one is seeking to be that ”next” man in line. All ten candidates have no deputy!

In American elections, candidates run in pairs, that of the president and the vice president. The last republican”s ticket included George W. Bush and Richard Cheney. The democrats” ticket included John Kerry for president and John Edward for vice president. Americans voted for both the president and his deputy. This means that the president is elected by the people or the Electoral College and so too is the vice president.

Therefore, in case of absence, removal or illness of the president, like the case with former American president Richard Nixon, the vice president takes authority. Americans elect their vice president bearing in mind the possibility of such unusual circumstances. It is for this reason that presidential candidates choose someone who enjoys wide public acceptance for the position, as he or she is a substantial part of marketing oneself for president and in the election campaign.

Since this is the case, why is Ayman Nour not accompanied by a vice president in his would speak as president in Upper Egypt and his deputy could hold a conference in Alexandria for example?

Why did President Mubarak not stand or rule with a vice president?

Egypt was so preoccupied with who would succeed Mubarak when the president was taken to Germany to treat his illness. The question of who would succeed Mubarak to rule Egypt was a cause for concern both locally and globally due to the important role that Egypt plays in the stability of the Middle East.

At that time, analysts made many likely and unlikely predictions. Some said that the military institution would fill this constitutional vacuum. Others looked to the constitution, stating that the parliament speaker takes charge of the country for sixty days until a president is elected from among the parliament members with a two-third majority of votes. Is this still possible now after the constitutional amendment, which states that the president is elected through direct private voting?

In other words, what is the effect of the article 76 amendment to a number of laws related to the president and the vice president?

My viewpoint is that only one issue represents how serious the Egyptian elections are, and whether there is a genuine will for reform, that is the vice president issue. If the candidates have a deputy, then we face the case of accepting the rule of alternation as fate may prevent any president or any official from completing his tasks. As for having one name on the ticket, it implies a lack of responsibility to run the country due to the potential of any unexpected development.

Responsibility necessitates that all ten candidates within the Egyptian political arena have a vice president who would settle matters in the absence of the president. By contrast, leaving matters to be decided by mere predictions and a state of conflict over authority between the different state institutions in the absence of a president does not ensure a stable and harmonious society of a country as huge and prominent as Egypt. The ability of Egyptians to elect a vice president is the decisive point. As for the president issue, it is well known and I can confidently say that President Mubarak will be victorious in the presidential elections. This is not to undermine the elections or raise suspicions about it but rather it is more of an objective evaluation of the nature of competition and the political weight of the competitors.

If Egyptians wish to surprise the world, let each candidate commit himself to include a vice president in their battle for presidency so that the Egyptian people can elect their vice president too.