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Boycotting the runoff: For the revolution, not my conscience

By-Elham Eidarous | 4 June 2012

Concerning the debate about boycotting the runoffs of the presidential elections, I would like to share here what I have decided after continuous deliberation and discussion with a large number of colleagues. This is in addition to following the news and statements made by the various political Islamist currents. And most importantly, I base my thoughts on discussions with a number of my neighbors and relatives who voted for Hamdeen Sabbahi and who are not affiliated with any political currents, not to mention my colleagues’ notes in which they reminded us of the moments in which the Muslim Brotherhood turned their back on us.

I admit that after facing the difficult position of having to choose between Ahmed Shafiq and Mohamed Morsy in the runoff, I seriously considered supporting Morsy despite my deep rifts with the political Islamist current, which represents everything I am opposed to in life. Since I have never boycotted any elections in my life, not even Mubarak’s, the option of boycotting seemed initially strange and somewhat negative.
 
On which basis do we decide?
 
The reason I thought about supporting Morsy is my great fear of Shafiq reaching power. Thus, we must answer a question: Is it going to make a big difference for our social and political struggle if Shafiq or Morsy ascends to power? Some colleagues say if Shafiq gets ahold of power he will completely abort the revolution and will eventually eliminate the political and social protest movement with the blessings of those who helped him reach power specifically for this purpose. However, after some thought, I began to doubt this.
 
Are we certain Shafiq will abort the revolution?
 
A sector — but not all — of those who elected Shafiq want some form of oppressive tyranny. Shafiq benefited from the hatred or despair felt by some toward the revolution, as well as from the National Democratic Party (NDP) network that continues to exist. He also benefited from the hatred felt by some sectors of society towards the political Islamist current and its callousness, which became apparent during the past few months. For example, female voters in particular are suspected to have changed their position toward Islamists from the parliamentary to the presidential elections, though more research is needed to confirm this. He benefited as well from people’s desire to prevent Islamists from dominating the political scene following their unsatisfactory performance in Parliament.
 
Furthermore, during the parliamentary elections, the stability-loving citizens, or what has become known as the “couch party,” were under the impression that the Muslim Brotherhood were the NDP’s ready replacement who could govern effectively and in an organized fashion as long as the armed forces gave them their blessing. This belief no longer exists. Therefore, Shafiq does not have the necessary backing from the public in order to create a fascist rule in the true sense of the word, especially in the presence of a revolution-backing bloc which has established its weight during the first round of the election.
 
Shafiq would have been able to totally smash and overcome the opposition, as some fear, if he had won the first round with say 50 percent or more rather than 25 percent of the votes, or if he was carried on the shoulders of millions rather than being marked with shoes and slippers, or if he had the blessing of the various political forces and civil society. Therefore, we will be able to face Shafiq if he comes to power against our will, provided we agree to continue our attack on him, and to launch a clear and strong denouncement of any party, group or public figure who supports him and encourages people to vote for him out of fear of the Brotherhood. At the same time, we should not jump into the Brotherhood's arms out of fear from the old regime.
 
Will our support for Morsy really save the revolution?
 
If Morsy ascends to power with the blessing of the various political forces, there is a risk that the Brotherhood will portray to the public that the revolution triumphed and achieved its objectives. They will say then that everyone should go back home (meaning the revolutionary forces) so that the Brotherhood can devote themselves to accomplishing the revolution’s tasks based on the legitimacy they acquired through both Tahrir Square and the ballot box. Furthermore, there is no guarantee at all that the Muslim Brotherhood will not use this support in their negotiations with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces if they decide to be "wise" enough to go back to cooperating with the military council.
 
I disagree with the anarchists who say that Shafiq's victory will bring the revolution back to Tahrir Square. In my opinion, the revolution will not continue in the square anyway. But this is another story. I believe that Morsy’s win would lead to a false sense of victory, while Shafiq’s win will allow us to expose all those who conspired against the revolution to revive the repressive state, including Morsy and his organization.
 
Is boycotting the third bloc’s weapon?
 
Therefore, I am now convinced that the answer lies in boycotting, not out of a desire to satisfy my conscience by not voting for two evil options, but out of conviction that there is no great difference between Shafiq or Morsy reaching power. Morsy will not save the revolution, and Shafiq cannot abort it as long as the political forces and in particular the revolutionary forces do not give their blessing to one of them.
 
If the third bloc (the civilian revolutionary bloc) supports either of the two candidates, it will lose its credibility and will lead it supporters to drawn-out frustration. This bloc has already become a legitimate force that neither candidate can ignore. We must encourage Hamdeen Sabbahi’s supporters to join the positive boycott since he received the greatest number of this bloc’s votes and therefore he represented them in the first round. This bloc needs a leader and now we might have one.
 
Of course, some civilian political forces aligned with the revolution will attempt to reach a solution or an open and transparent agreement with the Brotherhood. Although I think this is useless, it is not condemnable. However, those forces should not compromise any of the tenets of the revolution while doing so. They need to be defending the red lines and if the Brotherhood tries to outsmart the civilian forces, then any agreements must be rejected. Let the Brotherhood come to power through their own efforts and let us oppose them on solid grounds, especially that Morsy's chances are higher than Shafiq because of the relative stability of the constituency of the Islamist current.
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