By Garibov Konstantin
Egyptians are going to the polls for the second round of elections to a new parliament – the first since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February. After the first round in late November, another nine provinces are prepared to cast ballots on Wednesday and Thursday. The rest of the country will follow early in January.
Voting has been staggered over three months to allow each round to be carefully supervised by the judiciary.
More than 40 parties are competing for 180 seats. The first round was dominated by Islamist parties, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and Salafist al-Nour Party. The secular Egyptian Bloc came third. Many pundits believe the liberal coalition has already failed, as it did not manage to beat the Islamists even in the first round that took place in secular regions, including Alexandria and Cairo. The second round is on in nine rural regions, traditionally a stronghold of Political Islam.
Nonetheless, the former Secretary General of the Arab league Amr Moussa who is going to run for Egypt’s Presidency, believes Islamists will not get a majority in Parliament. He sounded upbeat on the election’s results in an interview with the Voice of Russia.
“If we have chosen the way of democracy, we have to respect the decision taken by the people. You can not announce democratic elections and then annul them, only because you do not like the outcome”, he said.
The authorities will not allow political opponents to sweep to power, Alexander Filonik, an analyst of the Institute of the Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes.
“Cairo’s Tahrir Square has become a special place for the Egyptians where they are able to show their dissatisfaction with the authorities. No one can guarantee that people would not take to the streets once again, as both secular and Islamist parties have enough support in the country. The military took over the running of the country, but it has been accused in recent months of trying to slow down the transition to civilian rule and safeguard its own interests. During Mubarak’s tenure the military amassed huge assets and gained control over financial flows. It is hard for any elite to give up their privileges.”
The Muslim Brotherhood are putting themselves forward as more moderate and pragmatic, while the more uncompromising Salafists are more in touch with the poorer sections of Egyptian society. It is not s surprise then that they do not share a common approach to the development of the tourist sphere.
With Egypt being one of the major tourist destinations for Russians, this disagreement is of paramount importance. Both parties claim that they want to double tourist inflow into the country in the next five years. The Salafists vowed to ban alcohol and beach tourism, while the Muslim Brotherhood does not plan anything of this kind. Still the discussion between the two parties is bound to become a pain in the neck for those who would like to go to Egypt.
As the tourist sector remains one the main sectors of the country’s economy along with the Suez Channel, tourists’ interests will always dominate Islamist morale.