Egyptian Elections Watch: Use with Caution
These opposing views are at the heart of an ongoing clash between two narratives on the state of Egypt’s Revolution—a battle that any meaningful discussion of Egypt’s 2011/2012 elections cannot overlook. One narrative, which the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) and its supporters have tried to promote through friendly media outlets, alleges that the January 25 Revolution has succeeded—with the help of the Egyptian army—and that the time has come for protest movements to vacate public squares, the streets, and factories, and begin deferring to elite politics: elections, parliaments, and constitution writers. From this perspective, elections are viewed as an important step toward advancing the change that Egyptians have called for during the eighteen-day uprising that toppled Mubarak.
An opposing narrative, advanced by many dissident individuals and groups through demonstrations, strikes, and other forms of contentious political action, posits that the Revolution is far from complete and is under severe attack from the SCAF. Advocates of this latter narrative tell us that the upcoming SCAF-sponsored elections are a step toward normalizing and legitimating a political reality in which Egypt’s military rulers can dominate the current “transition” and dictate its terms in ways that favor their own anti-democratic bureaucratic interests. Thus, proponents of this view fear that these elections will be used to abort rather than advance the revolution, which remains ongoing.