As I mentioned in my last post, the two choices in the run-off Egyptian presidential election (Ahmed Shafiq v. Mohamed Morsi), did not represent the two poles of Egyptian political thought, but rather, a narrow slice of the intricate and nuanced spectrum that we see in the current Egyptian political conversation. Juan Cole took this idea a step further and made a “political shorthand” “ballpark” estimate of the citizenry’s five major ideological groupings from the current political climate, which I very much appreciate and find insightful (from Cole’s article, Mursi and the Brotherhood in a Pluralist Egypt):
1. The Labor Left, led by Hamdeen Sabahi (20.17%)
2. Classic liberals, led by Amr Moussa (11.13%)
3. Authoritarian secularists,led by Ahmad Shafiq (23.66%)
4. Muslim liberals, led by Abdul Moneim Abou’l-Futouh (17.47%)
5. Muslim fundamentalist, led by Muhammad Mursi (24.78%)
He makes interesting observations that, if parliamentary elections do indeed happen later this year, the composition of Egypt’s parliament will likely look a lot different than the first-time around in November 2011 — when Islamist parties did so well, as Cole hypothesizes, as people were voting for the strongest, united from against ex-regime forces — and may look closer to something like the graph above. To note, I would not call Morsi’s grouping ‘fundamentalists’ — on one hand, the term is so loaded, but also I believe there is a more accurate split within this category, united in varying degrees in their stances on the worthwhile debate about the relationship of religion and state and legislating morality. Although, if you call the current ideological majority of America’s Republican party ‘fundamentalists,’ the Freedom and Justice Party could be seen as similar to them in parallel ways of approaching those questions.
Still, one of the largest insights from living in Egypt during early 2012 through the first round of the presidential election was how diverse the political conversation in Egypt is, with many nuanced stances and people falling into a huge range of categories on various issues, not simply one group supporting all “conservative” issues and another opposing group for all “liberal” ones. Rather, the very definitions and conflation of these ideological terms has been quite varied — Cole puts it well; “Egypt’s political geography has been revealed by this year’s elections to be diverse. It isn’t just puritans versus belly dancers.”