CAIRO – Egyptians went to the polls earlier this week to elect a new president after longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year. With a majority of ballots counted, here is a look at a handful of notable, if not surprising, developments:
LEADING CANDIDATE CRASHES:
Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister and ex-head of the Arab League, had led opinion polls for months. However, he failed to garner enough votes to make the June 16-17 runoff.
OLD REGIME CANDIDATE MAKES CUT:
Former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, a veteran of ousted President Hosni Mubarak's government, got enough votes to make the June 16-17 runoff. Shafiq ran as an anti-revolutionary candidate, promising a return to the security and stability of Mubarak government. His success would have been inconceivable a year ago amid the revolutionary fever that ousted Mubarak.
MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD WEAKER THAN EXPECTED:
Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, got the most votes and will have the lead going into the June 16-17 runoff. However, the Brotherhood's showing in general was weak compared to its domination of parliamentary elections last year, a sign of public disenchantment with the group.
LEFTIST CANDIDATE SURGES:
Hamdeen Sabahi had a surprise last-minute surge after campaigning on promises to help the poor and harkening back to the nationalist, socialist ideology of Gamel Abdel-Nasser, Egypt's president from 1956 to 1970. He will not go on to the June 16-17 runoff, but his strong performance shows that many voters were looking for an alternative candidate, one not connected to former President Hosni Mubarak or Islamist candidates.
EXPECTED CONTENDER IN FOURTH
Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, who was ousted by the Muslim Brotherhood last year after announcing his candidacy (the Brotherhood initially said it would not field a candidate), was seen as the face of moderate Islam. He put together a broad coalition of supporters, and was expected to be a contender for the June 16-17 runoff. However, with most votes counted, he was running a fourth. His decision to accept the endorsement of ultraconservative Islamists known as Salafis likely frightened many secularists and Christians who had been leaning toward him.