Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Egypt elections and the 'hype cycle'

As the verdict in Egypt's election comes in, I can't help but think about my post written a year ago, just after Mubarak's ouster, predicting the course of the revolution. In my post "Revolutions and emotions in the Middle East" I stated that:

  1. It is too early to write off Islam as a political force in Egypt
  2. Revolutionary emotions give rise to reactionary forces
  3. Islam is not necessarily antithetical to ideals of "democracy" and there is the danger of media narratives shaping such a demarcation

Now as we see it, in Egypt today, the parliament stands dissolved, there's no constitution and the president will now either be from the Muslim Brotherhood (Mohd Morsi) or the old guard (Ahmed Shafiq). Did the revolutionaries anticipate it? I don't think so. The revolution has not ended in Egypt and the repercussions of this phase will be significant on world politics and the politics of the region. As I wrote in my post a year earlier, it is now that the revolution has entered the "trough of disillusionment" in the hype cycle. This is where the 'realpolitik' begins and only in the coming few years we will see what it would lead to. 

For a section of Egyptians, Mohd Morsi by virtue of being a conservative Islamist, may represent a millenarian break from the past to a better social order. While Shafiq might represent stability and order that came with the old guard. It will be interesting to see the media rhetoric and media's representation of Egypt's situation in the coming few days and the reporting on Muslim Brotherhood and the mood in Egypt's street. 

For those who led the civil resistance in Egypt, this was definitely something that they never anticipated. Nonetheless, the revolution is far from dead... in fact it has just started!

Suggestions/Critiques welcome.

-- Madhur


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