The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohamed Morsi appears certain to head into the second round of Egypt’s presidential election while former aviation minister Ahmed Shafik could claim second place.
Egyptians headed to the polls on Wednesday and Thursday for the first free presidential election in more than half a century. Because no candidate emerged with an absolute majority, there will be a runoff next month.
Although full results aren’t in yet from Cairo and Giza, two of Egypt’s largest cities, polls suggest a win for the Islamist candidate and a member of the old regime in stark contrast to the expectations of the liberal revolutionaries who took to Tahrir Square last year and forced the resignation of strongman Hosni Mubarak. A Shafik spokesman told The New York Times, “The revolution has ended.”
Voters flocked to Shafik to “save Egypt from the dark forces,” as his spokesman put it, referring to the Brotherhood and more militant Islamists.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing won almost a parliamentary majority in December of last year and is now clearly the dominant political force in Egypt.
In Mubarak’s days, the Brotherhood was banned as a political organization but operated as a charity. Its fast rise has unsettled Christian and secular voters who fear an Islamist takeover. Shafik was apparently deemed the safer choice to protect the secular nature of Egypt’s republic, more so than former Arab League chairman Amr Moussa who was expected to do well.
Shafik was briefly prime minister in the dying days of Mubarak’s reign. Despite his association with the old regime, he drew votes from Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority and conservative Muslims yearning for stability.