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Egypt's post-election scorecard: losers and winners

With Abdel Fattah al-Sisi assuming the presidency, a stocktaking of Egypt’s political landscape reveals some surprising winners and losers.
Al Jazeera journalists (L-R)  Baher Mohamed, Peter Greste and Mohammed Fahmy stand behind bars in a court in Cairo June 1, 2014. The trial of the three Al Jazeera journalists accused of aiding of a "terrorist organisation" has been postponed to June 6. The Qatar-based television network's journalists - Peter Greste, an Australian, Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian-Egyptian national, and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian - were detained in Cairo on December 29. All three have denied the charges, with Al Jazeera saying the

The election of Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was the latest dizzying installment in Egypt’s post-revolutionary era. As Sisi is sworn in June 8 for Egypt’s top job, it might be worth taking stock of winners and losers.

The losers:

  1. The Muslim Brotherhood: Mohammed Morsi, the Brotherhood’s leader and former president of Egypt, is in jail, along with its entire leadership cadre. The Brotherhood is both banned and designated as a terrorist organization in Egypt, with over 2,500 supporters dead and 16,000 members in prison. To top it off, its namesake in Tunisia gave up power after seeing what happened in Egypt, and its regional allies, Qatar and Turkey, have never been more isolated. With the rest of the world turning its back on the Brotherhood, it's hard to believe that one year ago the group had it all: control of the executive and judiciary branches and the cabinet, and a budding new order to shape in the Middle East.
  2. Young revolutionaries: After entering into an uneasy and uncomfortable alliance with the Egyptian military and conservatives on June 30, following Mohamed ElBaradei’s lead on July 3, young revolutionaries found themselves living their worst nightmare two months later: The deadly and violent dispersal at Rabia al-Adawiya left them horrified, only to be abandoned the same day by ElBaradei, who resigned and left the country, forsaking them in their darkest hour. With the June 30 alliance in shambles, and without any political cover, they faced an unprecedented wave of media attacks, character assassinations and arrests as the country drifted back into repressive military rule. The politicians who claimed to represent them were either silenced or allied themselves with the military, and the few rights they managed to grab over the past three years were gone. The icing on the cake was the rise of former Defense Minister Sisi to the presidency, thus signaling the defeat of their goal to end military rule for the time being. The young revolutionaries are now either radicalized, apathetic, suffer from massive psychological trauma or plan to emigrate if they haven't already.
  3. Political parties: After uniting under the National Salvation Front to oppose the Muslim Brotherhood — and in the process creating an operational and financial political structure of significant weight — political parties now find themselves completely sidelined in today's Egypt. The front has broken up, and the interim government it influenced has been replaced by a technocratic government. The front's parties are divided between the few who supported Hamdeen Sabahi, and those aligned with Sisi. Yet, what little credibility they had is now lost. Even those who backed Sisi find themselves without any gains to justify their political position; they have no assurances of obtaining a seat in his next government, and the new parliamentary election law seriously hinders their competitiveness and ability to form any significant political alliance in the coming parliament. All they wanted was a piece of the pie, but many are slowly realizing there was no pie to begin with. 
  4. Media: Let’s do a checklist, shall we? TV channels shut down? Check. Journalists killed with impunity? Check. Foreign and local journalists jailed on trumped-up charges? Check. Bassem Youssef’s show — the lone voice of dissent and satire in the Egyptian landscape — silenced forever? Check. The rest of the media pundits — those who fully supported the government line — losing their credibility with their audience after their almost comical worship of Sisi? Check. Bonus: Those same media personalities have made themselves blood enemies of both Islamist young people and the radicalized revolutionary young people. Fun times await them.

The winners:

  1. The military: The military is now above reproach, both socially and legally. It gets to maintain and expand its economic empire since one of its own has become president. It also managed to crush both its liberal and Islamist opposition. For the military's top brass, the situation is finally under control.
  2. The judiciary: Thanks to the new constitution, the judiciary is now completely free to do anything it wants. Its members have no oversight mechanisms and are constitutionally allowed to engage in nepotism and issue any verdict they wish — no matter how unconstitutional it may be.
  3. Egyptian centrists: Egyptian centrists are living their best days. The Islamist state is history, their favored leader is president and they believe the political turmoil and protests of the past three years are now over. They believe that Sisi’s win will return Egypt's pre-revolution economic status quo, stability and security. That is all they have ever wanted. Time will only tell if they get it.
  4. Government employees: If there is one group that has continuously benefited from developments over the past three years, it’s Egyptian government employees. The left wing of the revolutionary movement demanded minimum wage for these employees and resisted any discussion to amend the labor law to allow their firing. Every interim government backed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) gave them raises, including the Morsi government and the current interim government. They have enjoyed an unprecedented amount of days off over the past three years, and have felt no pressure to increase their already dismal pre-revolution productivity (if they haven't stopped working altogether). Not a single attempt has been made by any of the post-revolution governments to rein in or dismantle the state's massive corruption network. And, despite all the government austerity talks, not one of the Egyptian state's 6 million employees will be let go. They have even been promised a higher minimum wage. For government employees, the revolution has been a godsend.

A postscript: If you find any of this joyful or depressing, please contain your enthusiasm and don’t fret too much. A year from now, this tally could be flipped on its head. After all, this is Egypt, and the situation in Egypt is very much like New England’s weather: If you don’t like it right now, just wait five minutes.

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