Well well well. Talk about a rock and a hard place. Just about everyone I speak with is not so much choosing a candidate as refusing his competitor. A mantra currently being repeated is "I am not voting for Morsy, I am just rejecting Shafik," along with its opposite number "I am not voting for Shafik, I am just rejecting Morsy".
Far from attempting the futile and trying to prove who is a better candidate, the bulk of discussions focuses on who is "less worse."
For one thing, you can remove that emotional pressure of having to opt for the lesser of two evils, because there are other options. You don't have to choose Morsy just because you can't tolerate the idea of voting for Shafik, and likewise you don't have to choose Shafik just because you hate Morsy.
You may boycott or annul your vote.
But if - like me - you don't like the idea of the boycott for a reason or another, here are five, non-ideological, Egypt-centric, criteria for helping you (and perhaps me) decide who to vote for.
1. The Constitution
The only real guarantor of future political diversity and stability, human, civil and minority rights protection, ending of the police state and setting the stage for the development of a modern country is a sound constitution. Which of the two candidates is likely to help produce that? What process will each candidate propose/support for the formation of the constitution committee? Who is more likely to minimise the number of "special" articles favouring this faction or that group or this ideology or that power base?
2. Freedom of Political Activity
To minimise the risk of Egypt falling under the hegemony of the MB or remaining under the control of the army, freedom of political activity is a necessary ingredient.
We need to ask ourselves, who, Shafik or Morsy, is more likely to tolerate serious political competitors? Which one will accept the possibility of leaving power in four years, not just in person but as the group they each represent? Who will ensure Egypt can take first steps down the road to real political diversity? Who is more likely to allow forming parties by notification? Who will accept demonstrations and protests? How would each of them react in the face of a hundred, or a hundred thousand, chanting against him in Tahreer?
3. The Economy & Social Justice
All but a few Egyptian pockets are suffering to one degree or another. Some will have to skip the new Benz to be able to do the Cote d'Azure this summer; others are desperately saving to ensure they can pay school fees in September and others still are struggling to put even one daily meal on the table. But make no mistake, the past 15 months (and the year of the global financial crisis and rising food prices before them) have taken their fiscal toll on everyone. Which of the two candidates can get the economy moving again? To whose call will investors from the Arab Gulf and further afield respond? Who will be able to address the grievances and howling stomachs of the estimated 20% of the population living below the poverty line (income less than $1.25 per day)? Who is more likely to offer solutions to tackle sky-rocketing prices including basic food items? Who has a stronger, more viable, more balanced economic program?
4. Fighting Corruption
It has long been my contention that if you were to distil all of Egypt's problems and then filter the distilled product and put it through a fine sieve, you'd end up with: Corruption. Financial, political, judicial and indeed across-the-board governmental corruption were at the core of Egypt and the Egyptians' woes. Which of the two possible presidents do you believe will fight corruption? Which of the two will promote transparency in the awarding of government contracts and in the judicial system? Who is more likely to have the stronger impact on rampant bribery and nepotism? Which of the two can tighten the legal loopholes through which billions are syphoned from state coffers to private pockets?
5. Re-uniting the Country
Last, but by no means the least, Egypt is facing several rifts, between those pro and those anti the revolution, between Islamists and secularists and leftists and right wingers. These rifts threaten to widen and if they do, there is a lot at risk. Which of the two candidates is more likely to reunite Egyptians? Who can narrow the gaps between disparate and estranged groups? Who can provide the leadership needed to put differences aside and work for a common goal? Which candidate, Shafik or Morsy can paint a picture of the future which all Egyptians would like to be in?
I haven't a clue. If you decide, let me know.