Beware the protest vote
By Negad El-Boraai
There are many things in the current race that reminds me of the Al Gore versus George W Bush finale in 2000.
For one thing, the count in the 2000 US elections was very close, with Al Gore getting 48.3 per cent and George W Bush getting 47.8 per cent of the votes nationwide. But the winner was George W Bush because of the Electoral College system that gives the entire voting power of the state to the candidate with the highest percentage in that state.
Furthermore, the Egyptian elections in 2012 and the US elections of 2000 showed strong signs of a protest vote. Just as many Americans voted for Bush in 2000 to punish the Democrats for their Middle East policy, many Egyptians voted for Ahmed Shafik to spite the Muslim Brotherhood, while many voted for Mursi to spite the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
Evidently, half the voters were intent on stopping the Brotherhood from creating a theocracy. If this trend continues, we may end up seeing a broad-based movement calling for a secular state and equal rights for all citizens.
Egypt can borrow something from the US system. Perhaps the president shouldn't be the one who gains the most votes, but the one who has the support of as many governorates as possible.
In other words, someone who wins big because he received the support of a few densely populated governorates may be less qualified to rule than someone whose followers are more evenly distributed throughout the land.
At one point, I wish to see the army or the judiciary declared a protector of the secular state. We must not allow any political group, however popular, to undermine the civil nature of the state. We must not allow any party to interfere with our personal freedoms, or to challenge long-established human rights.
This week's Soapbox speaker is a lawyer and human rights activist.