It's been a little over a year since Hosni Mubarak was forced from power in Egypt as part of the “Arab Spring,” and in November and December Egypt witnessed its first free and fair elections. Over 54% of eligible voters turned up to decide who would represent them in the People’s Assembly, the lower house of Egypt’s parliament. Elections for the upper house, the Shura Council, soon followed in January and February of this year.
But amidst this pioneering political transition, one paramount election has yet to occur: an election to fill the position Mubarak vacated, the presidency.
The president is the most powerful official in Egypt, which makes the first free and fair presidential election, scheduled for late May, a landmark event. Accordingly, the election has large implications for the future affairs not only of Egypt and the Middle East, but more broadly the entire world. Yet coverage in the Western media has (for the most part) been scarce, limited to high-level attempts at analyzing a very complex political environment.
This will not do. Whether we are policy wonks, geopolitics enthusiasts or simply informed readers, it is incumbent upon us to learn more about this critical issue.
As campaigns unfold and Egyptians prepare to head to the polls, it will be crucial to understand not only who the frontrunners are, but also the reasons for their popularity. For the first time, Egyptians will be able to freely choose their president, and, given the promise of a new democratic Egypt, the driving forces behind their voting patterns may well grow into the driving forces behind domestic and foreign policies. Identifying these issues is key: to understand the future of Egypt, we must understand the Egyptian people’s choices in governance.
As a small step towards this goal, I’m pleased to announce a new project, Egypt Elects. Egypt Elects is a blog maintained with the express purpose of building awareness of the various issues being discussed by candidates and voters. As the campaigns evolve and key issues emerge, the blog will aggregate news and analysis about the candidates and issues shaping the elections.
My hope is to develop a comprehensive and central source for issue-focused information on Egypt’s upcoming presidential election and, by breaking down the candidates and issues at the forefront of these landmark campaigns, to facilitate an open, informed, and honest dialogue surrounding the presidential election and the issues at play.
You can visit Egypt Elects at http://www.egyptelectsblog.com, or follow updates on Twitter: @egypt_elects. Contributions and suggestions for this project are welcomed and encouraged. Send your thoughts and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.