By Salama A Salama
In a naïve attempt to get out of the debacle that the first round of presidential elections has created, some people called for Hamdeen Sabahi to replace Mohamed Mursi in the run-off. Their argument is that Sabahi has a better chance of defeating Ahmed Shafik, who is said to represent the old regime.
These ideas, floated by some of the country's veteran politicians, are not helpful to Sabahi nor to the presidential elections, nor to the credibility of the polling system. A much better option would be for Sabahi's campaign to continue challenging the result of the vote in court and to demand a recount. If this tactic restores Sabahi to the race, then all is fine. Otherwise, the run-off must go on.
The current debacle is quite educational, for it shows, once again, that our political elite is incapable of reading the public's mind or anticipating its mood. It turned out that the entire bloc of voters who support the Islamist currents is equal in size to the conservative bloc supporting the ways of the old regime. A third bloc has emerged, one that supports the revolution and its demands for justice. This third bloc proved to be quite sizeable as well.
At present, there is no way of stopping the Muslim Brotherhood from pursuing its agenda. Nor is there a reasonable way to reverse the momentum of the Islamist currents. Let's therefore admit that many of the supporters of Sabahi and Abul-Fotouh will have no choice but to support the Islamist candidate, as the one less damaging to their revolutionary ideas.
The Islamist current is learning its lesson. It is starting to understand the magnitude of the challenges ahead. It is aware that the counter-revolution is mobilising its supporters ahead of the run-off.
The Shafik camp, meanwhile, keeps making reconciliatory remarks and paying lip service to the revolution. But its credibility is open to question.
We need to have a political process that works. We also need to make sure that the pre-revolution ways are not going to rise from the ashes. A lot depends on how aware we are of the perils ahead, of the risks involved in the reconstruction of Mubarak's regime.
It is necessary, therefore, to form a national front that is dedicated to the removal of all traces of the old regime. As you may have noticed, the newspapers have been awash with reports of deals that must be made, conditions that must be met, and promises that must be kept. We heard of a consensus document written by various political parties and groups to ensure that no party would monopolise power in the future.
Considering that earlier consensus documents have not met with luck, only time will tell how the shifting sand of alliances will settle. I don't rule out that some may eventually claim that Shafik's participation in the race was a ploy designed to boost Mursi's chances against Abul-Fotouh, Sabahi and Moussa.
The current scene is painful and disturbing for many, but we must admit that this is how democracies work. It is only natural for one candidate to win and for another to lose. It is only when the losers, including Sabahi's supporters, stop crying wolf and begin preparing for the future that we'll have a chance.
I know that everyone is frustrated and many feel cheated, but the only way forward is to learn how to compromise. Our political parties must learn how to find a common ground. Monopolising power is not the solution -- it is the problem.