Egypt heads to the polls – a year after revolution

Millions set to vote for Muburak's successor in country's first genuinely democratic election

Cairo

Egypt's revolution will have come full circle today as millions of voters head to the polls for a presidential election, which could radically alter the face of the Middle East.

A year since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians will vote to elect his successor after an interregnum marred by bloodshed, political sclerosis and mutual suspicion among one-time revolutionary comrades.

The poll will be the first genuinely democratic election of its kind in Egypt's history, yet continues to be overshadowed by a series of huge questions – not least over who the eventual victor will be.

A number of local opinion polls have tipped Amr Moussa, the former Arab League chief and Foreign Minister under Hosni Mubarak; others have indicated the winner will be Ahmed Shafik, the man hastily appointed as Prime Minister during the death throes of the previous regime.

A clutch of other candidates have also kept their noses in front: Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the reformed Islamic radical now seen as a uniting "crossover" contender; Hamdeen Sabahi, a leftist firebrand and vociferous critic of the Military Council; and Mohamed Morsi, official candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"The people of Egypt made the biggest revolution in the country's history," said Emad Hamdy, a member of Hamdeen Sabahi's campaign team. "Now they have won the right to choose their own president."

There is no doubting the fervour with which many Egyptians have taken to the task of electing their new president. City and village squares across the country have filled up with voters eager to watch the various election bandwagons rolling into town.

Whatever the result, the stakes are huge. In the minds many activists, a victory for Amr Moussa or Ahmed Shafik would be a hammer blow for the uprising – confirmation that the old regime under which both men served has yet to be unpicked.

"Without a revolutionary president, there will be no revolutionary change in Egypt," explained Sally Sami, a campaign co-ordinator for Khalid Ali, the low-flying candidate who has nevertheless developed a devoted following among many young activists.

Moussa supporters reject such sleights: "He left the government in 2000," said regional co-ordinator Mohamed Osman. "How can he be with the regime?"

Instead they project their man as the can-do-candidate; a veteran, big-stage actor providing a firewall against Islamists such as Mohamed Morsi.

It is a strategy designed to play well with anxious voters who realise that a win for Mr Morsi would cement the Muslim Brotherhood's total dominance over Egyptian politics.

The group already controls nearly half the Egyptian parliament, and though Mr Morsi has not polled well, the clout of the Brotherhood and its network of influence means his candidacy cannot be ruled out.

Such an outcome would displease liberal MPs and activists, many of whom accused it of trying to strong-arm its agenda on to the committee drafting the new constitution.But it will also mark a breathtaking reversal of fortunes for a group that was outlawed and whose members have suffered imprisonment and torture.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £38,000

£16000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued expansion, an ...

Ashdown Group: Senior .Net Developer - Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey

£65000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A long-established, tech...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Software Development Project Manager - Kingston Upon Thames

£55000 - £60000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Experienced Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders