It is the eve of the Presidential elections in Egypt. In some ways everything seems so quiet. There is not the flurry of campaigning which I expected. Indeed, campaigning is not very present across  Cairo. It seems to be concentrated in specific areas of the city. Many of the main candidates seem to also be focusing on towns and rural areas outside of the city, where they think there campaign will more easily be able to influence voters and have a bigger impact.

The campaigns make themselves felt in bursts throughout Cairo, a flyer thrust into hands outside of metro stations, a heated debate on a midnight metro between strangers, a group of youths tearing down posters in downtown, passing by coffee shops shouting: “No to Shafik!”

This seems to be a feature of the campaigns. They focus on ‘No’ to certain candidates rather than rally support around one. The 6th April Movement, made a concentrated effort to support boycotting candidates linked to the previous regime. (See Egypt Independent).

This brand new President will have a strong influence over Egypt’s future. Not just in the traditional way, will his political preferences determine national programme and law-making. In Egypt’s current context any President elected will incite reaction from civil society. His religious sway will decide relations with a predominately Islamist Parliament; his political sway will provoke the reactions of determined and strong groups of activists, and his support of the previous regime will assure (or not) willingness of the army to withdraw from power.

With this in mind, it seems that campaigning is not the place where activists and Egyptians are really fighting for their future. It seems this new democracy will be asserted in post-election activism, not pre-election campaigning. For now, Egypt is waiting.

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