Photograph by Khaled Desouki/AFP/GettyImages.
UPDATE: As expected, Egyptians will have to choose between the Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a military man close to ousted leader Hosni Mubarak in the second-round presidential election next month. Although official results aren’t expected until Tuesday, state television said the Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi led the vote with 26.4 percent, while Ahmed Shafiq, a former head of the air force, received 23 percent, reports Reuters.
The secular leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahy came in a close third and called for a partial vote recount, saying there were violations in voting rules that could end up changing the outcome of the race, notes the Associated Press.
Meanwhile though, the two candidates that right now look likely to move to the second round quickly began trying to broaden their base Saturday. Mursi tried to ease fears that he would change Egypt into a hardline Islamic state, while Shafiq insisted he had no intention of bringing back Mubarak’s authoritarian regime.
Former president Jimmy Carter, who led ballot box observers, said that while he couldn’t assure “the entire process has been proper” because of restrictions placed on the monitors he said it looked to be successful overall. Although the election process wasn’t perfect, any mistakes “did not affect the integrity of the election” and there seemed to be no pattern in these errors that “favored a particular candidate,” reports CNN.
Friday, May 25: With only partial results available Friday, it looks like Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi will face either a leftist candidate or Ahmed Shafiq, former President Mubarak's final prime minister, in the second round of voting for Egypt's presidency.
The Muslim Brotherhood predicted that Morsi, who by all counts won the most votes, would run against Shafiq, according to the Associated Press, and most analysts seem to at least tentatively agree. But that won't be final until officials finish counting ballots in Cairo and Gaza some time late Friday or early Saturday. Currently, the race for second is between Shafiq and Hamdeen Sabahi, commonly described as a "dark horse" candidate from the left who was the clear winner in the coastal city of Alexandria.
Should Shafiq take second place, as seems likely but not certain, Egyptians will face a vote between an Islamist candidate representing a party that already dominates the country's parliament, and a loyalist to the Mubarak regime, making the second round of voting June 16-17 a choice between two highly divisive candidates and scenarios. Some analysts, like Juan Cole, believe that such a choice would likely spark a new round of protests in the country. Cole notes that Shafiq has "ominously promised to crack down hard on 'destructive demonstrations' " as part of his candidacy.
The New York Times explains that Ahmed Shafik, a former air force general, ran on a "law-and-order" platform against the possibility of an Islamist takeover of the country's government. The country's Christian minority—about 10 percent of the population—voted overwhelmingly for Shafik, despite previous tensions between the military and Christians in Egypt.