Two thoughts go through my mind when I see all these people lined up for an election WITHOUT a pre-determined winner: 1. WE'VE ALREADY WON! and 2. This is a game-changer for the Middle East.
We've already won because this was unthinkable a couple of years ago. Hosny would go (to heaven or hell or home), Mubarak Junior aka Jimmy The Beast would take over and we'd turn into the second monarchic republic in the neighbourhood (the Assads of Syria take the inglorious first spot). We've won, because that nightmare scenario is in the garbage bin of history, right at the bottom of the pile, underneath police brutality, arrests without warrants, torture in State Security cells, blatantly rigged elections, corruption etc..etc...ad nauseum.
History will not, in this particular case, repeat itself.
Not even if Shafik wins.
And let's face it, that's the only real nightmare scenario here. Another decorated military man with no more credentials than the ability to fly planes (building a billion pound airport on a three billion pound budget is no success) takes the helm attempting to recreate his idol's regime. Not a chance General. You so much as hint at putting a toe over that line and we're back to January 24th 2011 in no time. I suppose I should rephrase that previous statement, if his-story attempts to repeat itself, our-story will repeat itself too. Sharpish!
But let's briefly look at (only) the bright side of the other possible outcomes:
Mousa: Well-known to the outside world, he will likely succeed in quickly comforting Western and Israeli fears and possibly loosening Gulf/IMF/World Bank purse strings. Flexible (to use the euphemism for unprincipled) he will not take any stand which may antagonise SCAF, the MB or anybody else, ensuring more stability (to use the euphemism for stagnancy). Egotistical, he may well try and do a good job if only to nicely round up his CV.
Morsy: Spare tire or no spare tire (Morsi was only selected by MB as their candidate after first choice el-Shater was forced out of the race), the man has the greatest, best-organized machine in the country behind him. The MB/FJP's El-Nahda Project is arguably the most detailed and most realistic among the lot. He will have a (perhaps too) harmonious relation with parliament and for good measure MUST allay fears of MB/Islamic hegemony by steering clear of sectarian/libertarian land mines to ensure a second term for himself and match the success of his party in parliament five years from now.He is the only front-runner with a party and platform behind him.
Aboul Fotouh (my choice) is a centrist by all standards. As evidenced by his supporter pool (includes hardcore Salafis, liberals, moderate Islamists and strictly secular leftists), he is neither too liberal nor too conservative, nor too far to the right or left. He has an excellent opportunity to bring Egypt together on a moderate platform of civil liberties and economic growth based on bridled capitalism with a dash of social justice. He's one of us. I like that. No flash, no nonsense.
Sabbahy: How can you argue against the leftist in him with 70% of the population at or below the poverty line? (Well, you can, but it would be uncool). The man clearly has the worst off in mind and that's got to be a good thing. Besides, he (along with ma man AF) is the one who most comes across as "one of us". It would be a good thing to have "one of us" in power.
The rest of the runners, are no more than that, runners. No chance of getting into the runoffs,
So we've won.
The second thought is a bit further reaching. I can only imagine what must be going on in Saudi, Kuwaiti, Syrian, Sudanese, Yemeni, Moroccan and other Arab heads as they watch us partake in our elections. Envy? Perhaps, but probably also gratitude. we've opened a door which may prove impossible to close.Although there is a lot I dislike (and some I like) about Berlusconi, but the previous Italian PM did phrase it oh so well when after the ouster of Mubarak he declared "There is no surprise, the Egyptians are making history again."