CAIRO -- Egyptians who stood in Tahrir Square 15 months ago demanding a revolution spent Friday stunned and shattered as the first democratic election here rejected their calls, instead producing a runoff between one candidate who wants an Islamic-based state and another who promises a return to the deposed regime.
The Egyptians whod led the marches that forced Hosni Mubarak to resign the presidency last year conceded on Twitter and elsewhere that the voting showed the revolutionaries didnt truly understand popular Egyptian sentiment and were not politically savvy during this nations first campaign season. Already, some threatened to boycott the runoff election slated for next month, and others warned that such a runoff could lead to violence in the streets. Some said they were preparing themselves to vote for the Muslim Brotherhood in opposition to the regime candidate.
Among them was Mohammed Abbas, founder of the post-revolutionary Egyptian Current Party and a supporter of moderate Islamist presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh.
We will never endorse (former Prime Minister Ahmed) Shafik, who means the return of the Mubarak oppression. The people wanted the change, and this is the change now. Yes, its through the Brotherhood, but at least it satisfies the peoples desire, Abbas said. All options are on the table if Shafik becomes president, and I mean all options.
Despite the apparent outcome, it is possible the runoff candidates could change again as the election commission here said Friday it had only received 60 percent of the ballots. And several of the losing campaigns noted that the numbers are not confirmed. But it seemed the candidates themselves had accepted the results.
The voting results are based on what 26 of Egypts 28 governorates had reported. The ballots then go to the election commission for the official count. Those reported numbers showed Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi in first place with 26 percent of the vote and Shafik in second with 24 percent. And although Arab nationalist and revolutionary favorite Hamdeen Sabahi appeared to win Cairo, he came in third place overall. In the capital, Morsi came in a distant third.
Either a killer or a fundamentalist? Thank you very much, I dont want this country anymore, said Fatma Emam, a womens advocate and Tahrir Square fixture, referring to the prospect of a runoff between Shafik and Morsi.
Aboul Fotouh, the one-time favored moderate Islamist, and former Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa appeared out of the running. In tweets and statements, Aboul Fotouh campaign workers said they were shocked.
Outside Sabahis campaign headquarters, supporters were crying and yelling about the results. Moimem Ahmed, 28, a Sabahi campaign staffer, looked at his computer outside campaign headquarters with news announcing the two finalists and said: How can I support those? If it was Aboul Fotouh or anyone else we could have at least accepted it. But not those.
At stake in the election are two vastly different visions for the Arab worlds most populous nation.
A Morsi win, coupled with the Brotherhoods dominance in the Parliament, offers a conservative government that is likely to distance itself from the U.S. and Israel. Such a win also likely would reshape how the Arab world sees Islamic-based governance.