Egyptian presidential elections
The results from Egypt’s first round of voting held on 23 and 24 May 2012, have pitted the two most polarizing and controversial figures in the race against each other. According to Egypt’s electoral commission, Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi and ex-Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq were the top two finishers with 24.3 and 23.3 percent of the vote respectively. A mere 200 000 votes separated the leaders thus suggesting that the runoff, scheduled for 16 and 17 June, will be extremely tight.
This outcome has caused much debate and to some extent despair, as many Egyptians feel that they have failed to fully realise those aspirations embodied in the Arab Spring. In this regard, citizens are now limited to two choices: through Shafiq, a return to the military-style led government of former President Hosni Mubarak or a vote for the Islamic Brotherhood. Moreover, a vote for Morsi would ensure absolute power for religious factions in the country as the Brotherhood along with the conservative Salafist Nour Party enjoy a two-thirds majority in parliament.
Although many Egyptians have protested the outcome, Shafiq’s presence in the runoff has sparked much more anger than that of Morsi. Almost immediately after the commission announced the electoral results, for example, around 1000 protestors gathered in Tahrir Square and have continued to gather since. Soon after, assailants set fire to an annex of Shafiq’s headquarters in Cairo. Egyptian activists are now calling for a million-man march in an attempt to pressure the commission to apply the Political Isolation Law to Shafiq. This law deprives senior officials from the former regime of occupying political posts. Shafiq was previously disqualified from the presidential race under this law in April but was reinstated after an appeal.
Whether the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) will apply this law to Shafiq (again) remains questionable as by doing so it could destabilize the entire process thus throwing the country into greater turmoil. Nevertheless, according to Article 37 of the Presidential Elections Law, should Shafiq be disqualified at this stage, voters will have to vote in a referendum on Morsi. If he fails to attract over 50 percent of the vote, new elections will be held.
Should Morsi and Shafiq face each other in the run offs as scheduled, it remains likely that the people will choose Morsi to be their next president as choosing Shafiq would be an admission that the revolution failed. In this regard, a win for the Brotherhood will hasten Egypt’s transformation into an Islamic state.
For the time being, more protests are expected in the lead up to the runoffs. Such protests may very well be characterized by violence as Egypt remains deeply divided. Moreover, the recent trial of Mubarak in which he was sentenced to life in prison whilst six of his co-accused were acquitted is sure to spark additional demonstrations throughout the country. This verdict has angered Egyptians as many believe the sentences were too lenient. The trial should therefore help rally up even more support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Lesotho general elections
Final elections results from the Mountain Kingdom saw incumbent, Pakalitha Mosisili, taking 48 of the 120 Parliamentary seats available. To hold a majority, a party needs to win 61 seats.
Mosisili initially expected a straight run to another term under his newly created Democratic Congress (DC) party; however, public response to his campaigning was less than enthusiastic. The former ruling party, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) was also quite confident, prematurely tapering off campaigning in the lead up to Saturday’s elections.
Final voting numbers gave the LCD 26 seats, the All Basotho Congress (ABC’s) Thomas Thabane 30 seats, and the Basotho National Party (BNP) five seats, for a perfect majority of 61 seats. The three parties sealed the coalition deal on Wednesday, 30 May.
However, Lesotho’s political system is a fractious one, characterised by numerous floor crossings which precipitated the formation of both the LDC and DC, and which saw the LDC hold a parliamentary majority with a mere 45 out of 120 seats due to coalitions. This was broken when Mosisili started his own party earlier this year, breaking the ruling coalition. Such machinations are likely to continue to characterise Lesotho politics after the coalition government is formed, with the DC needing only 13 floor crossings to steal power from the latest coalition.