Mohamed Morsi claimed the presidency of Egypt yesterday against the wishes of nearly 50 percent of the population. The road to redemption, if he seeks it, will be long and arduous.
With bated breath Egypt watched Farouq Sultan of the Presidential Elections Committee make himself the punch line of countless jokes inspired by the length of his official announcement of the results. But in the end, the votes were in, the president announced and Tahrir square burst into cheers while Nasr City fell into despondency.
In many ways, the situation today is similar to the days following the revolution of 1952. A corrupt regime estranged from the people lies lifeless at the feet of the Egyptian state, foreign hands are firmly being pushed away, city streets are frequently in chaos as repressed Islamic groups and fearful secular forces clash.
A leader has emerged, but unlike Mohamed Naguib in 1952, Morsi does not have the widespread support of the nation, although you would not know it if you watched scenes from Tahrir Square. Morsi will also not enjoy the unlimited power that characterised Naguib’s short reign.
Following the constitutional amendments instituted by the SCAF that affect his ability to even staff his own cabinet or fill his office’s printers with paper, Morsi is facing an uphill battle. Morsi –while standing on the favourable end result of a long and costly revolutionary struggle – is ostensibly democratically-elected, but only time will tell if democratic elections will strengthen his legitimacy or simply made him a number of enemies that equal roughly half the Egyptian population. Morsi may aspire to wield power like Abdel-Nasser or a Sadat, considered movers and shakers with radical ideas and the power to enforce them.
Loved or hated with a passion, depending on who you ask, these leaders inarguably changed the course of Egypt forever, though it cannot be said whether it was for better or worse. It is also not out of the question that Morsi might arise a new tyrant from the ashes of Mubarak. The Egyptian public endlessly joked about the corruption and torturous habits of the ex-president and his regime as a coping mechanism before shaking off the despot in an 18-day uprising. They were funny until they were not. Mubarak, eventually, crossed the line and paid for it. Morsi, should he learn from his predecessor’s mistakes, may decide corruption is allowed for as long as it is well-hidden, and the population is laughing at it.
Ultimately, there is no way to predict the effect President-Elect Morsi will have on Egypt. Reactions on social media sites range from elation that the revolution trudges on to fury and disgust at the perceived social changes the Islamist president will initiate. Bound hand in foot by constitutional amendments and with no parliament to work with, President-Elect Morsi might very well just do nothing.