Al-Monitor correspondent Sophie Claudet writes from Cairo:
It is quite logical that Egypt’s liberals, seculars and most Copts would not cast their vote for an Islamist candidate in Wednesday’s election. What about the rest of the voters?
Egypt is a conservative society, and we have seen, whether in Egypt or Tunisia, that Islamists bore the brunt of the former regime’s repressive policies and were pretty much the only organized force around, so they gained the trust of voters. In fact, in post-revolutionary Tunisia and Egypt, citizens voted en masse for Islamists when they had the chance to participate in the first free and open general elections in decades. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice movement and the radical Salafist Al-Nour party dominate the People’s Assembly. Four months have passed since the November poll and people are increasingly disappointed with the Islamists’ performance.
Call it impatience over the lack of socio-economic accomplishments that goes with every revolution and, in that sense, Egypt is no exception. Call it outrage over some laws that were discussed in parliament such as lowering the age of marriage for women. Many Egyptians are also angered over the fact the Brotherhood went back on a promise not to field a presidential candidate and presented not one but two – though one was later disqualified by the electoral commission. Others have criticized the fact Islamists ended up dominating the 100-member committee in charge of drafting the country’s future constitution, which led to half of its members’ resignation. A court disbanded the constituent assembly last month, and Egyptians will soon have a president without a constitution to define his power and that of the mighty military.
To some, Islamist independent and front-runner Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh is too lenient towards Egypt’s interim ruling Supreme Council of the armed forces (SCAF). And more often than not, as the elections draw close, Egyptians from all walks of life tell me that their country is surely Muslim but cannot become Islamist. We don’t want another Iran, some go as far as saying. Tomorrow will tell if Egypt is likely to be ruled not only by an Islamist-dominated parliament but also by an Islamist president.