(Graffiti in memory of the Revolution's martyrs)
This is the question I have been asking anyone and everyone in Cairo in recent days.
“So who is going to win?” I blurted out to an Egyptian friend at a party last Thursday night.
“I think Ahmed Shafiq will” he answered back quickly.
I laughed...but then I could see that he was not joking.
The polls back up this insight, Mubarak’s final Prime Minister, and the candidate closest to the old regime is apparently gaining ground.
However I ventured two guesses on the show.
1. The next President will not be a woman (brave that one don’t you think?)
2. Former Foreign Minister and ex leader of The Arab League, Amr Moussa, will make the second round runoff.
However even the Amr Moussa prediction is called into question by Sandmonkey on his latest blog. So maybe I should have just gone on air and said nothing, or just talked about the Pyramids, or the downtown Cairo bar scene. Things I am more expert in.
Now back to Shafiq. If somehow he did win, then I think, despite his followers hoping he will bring stability, it will actually be destabilising.
A section of the revolutionary movement (and the Islamists) will regard him as not legitimate- because he represents the counter revolution.
Now you could say that his victory would be legitimate at the polls, but this is still a post revolutionary moment and there is a lingering feeling of “revolutionary legitimacy” or “Tahrir legitimacy” that still means something to some people here. A sort of legitimacy that may even trump the polling box, in the eyes of some (not the majority of people here by any means).
This is not the 2000 US election for instance, when the Supreme Court “stole” (sorry that is a strong word, I mean “robbed”) the election for Bush. The Democratic opposition was not going to take on the institutions of state no matter how angry it was with the verdict.
(Although it is fun trying to visualise Al Gore leading a ragged army of insurgents in the fields outside Washington DC, with Joe Lieberman becoming a sort of “Beltway Che” a poster boy of a guerrilla movement against illegitimate Bush rule.).
The institutions of state here may not be sufficiently bedded in or stable enough just yet, to withstand significant opposition to a certain election outcome.
However, as I have said many times here, it’s hard to know.
And anyway, I don’t think Shafiq will win. (Oops there’s a prediction!)
(The beautiful purple trees I mentioned to you before, have died away. But across Cairo as the summer begins to get very hot indeed, there are these stunning riotous Orange trees)