Saturday 20 January 2018

Robert Fisk: Bliss to to be alive as Egypt queues to vote ... but will enthusiasm give way to cynicism?

BLISS was it in that dawn to be alive? It had rained overnight, but with Egypt's pale and wintry sun came the crowds, lining up outside the polling stations with a patience and an enthusiasm that would put any European nation to shame.

I walked and walked, and some queues were half a mile – perhaps three quarters of a mile – in length, and gone was the old and corrupted voting culture of the past half-century. There were no cops to leer and to intimidate the men and women who arrived to choose their candidates, no one to tip voting papers into the Nile, no fraudulent figures to produce another rubber-stamp parliament. But my question mark on Wordsworth's all too brief enthusiasm for the French Revolution is necessary.

For the Egyptian Revolution has also turned violent, bliss has given way to cynicism, the Muslim Brotherhood cosying up to the military which still – incredibly – thinks it can run the country as a private fiefdom, its shopping malls and banking conglomerates and its fancy villas intact, its private economy untouched by parliamentary control. And the parliament for which those millions of Egyptians voted yesterday – and will again in other governorates across the country until January – cannot form a government or choose ministers. Is this, in other words, a real transition? Or do Mubarak's old pal Field Marshal Tantawi and Mubarak's old crony Kamal Ganzouri – the Mubarakite army commander having just made the Mubarakite ex-Prime Minister a Prime Minister yet again – believe they can stitch the place up, yesterday's poll being another fantasy, real elections for real candidates who will have no power?

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