Tomorrow Egyptians go to the polls to elect their first freely chosen chief executive. Yet they go under a cloud of uncertainty. A judicial decision rendered their chief democratic achievement obsolete: Parliament is dissolved.
The ruling found its composition unconstitutional, following a precedent which dissolved parliaments before. Yet its timing – days before the election – was odd, prompting accusations of a democratic rollback on the part of the military.
Yet the accusations were rather muted. That is, many didn’t mind seeing the parliament go. The biggest victim – the Islamist majority – failed to protest significantly either. On the contrary, they urged people to head to the polls, to continue the revolution with the ballot.
Once there, people face three choices: The candidate of the old regime, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the choice of spoiling the ballot. The third choice will have no impact on elections, but will provide a tally of every voter choosing none of the above.
God, give wisdom to Egypt’s people. First and foremost, should they even go to vote? Many say their participation is an endorsement of the flawed, and perhaps manipulated, process. Yet if your endowed responsibility to support one’s nation demands a vote, guide those who seek your will. Which president will serve Egypt best?
But God, the sad reality is that some might prefer the other candidate to win, only to see him fail before Egypt’s many challenges. Sadder still is that this could be your will as well.
Too much is obscure, God. Did the court rule against parliament on pure legal reasoning or on political considerations? If political, in favor of whom? Does dropping an assembly of Islamists allow a representative committee to draft the constitution? Or does it compromise the concept of representative government no matter which result is actualized?
Are Islamists the best path toward open and civil government, or the embodiment of its opposite?
Is the old regime properly reformed after the revolution to rule justly, or itching for an opportunity to settle scores?
God, how can Egyptians choose? It is not an election about higher vs. lower taxes or the proper scope of guaranteed health care. It is in essence a choice of direction for a nation – but without much certainty over the reality of either candidate. It is not a decision between shades of spin, but between truth and lies – but without much evidence in either direction.
And all the above presupposes there is not a deal between the old regime and the Islamists to divide power regardless.
God, lift Egypt. May these elections be a cause of celebration over the event, if not the outcome. But may the hope be greater: Give cause also to celebrate the outcome, if only months and years later.
Steady Egypt, God. The decisive moment has arrived and signs are not encouraging. From here events may either stabilize or begin to spiral out of control. There is the chance as well the status quo of confusion carries on. Keep Egypt from harm, God. Protect her people. May none choose violence to protest their loss.
But where loss is unjust, God, give ways to continue the struggle. Set right all wrongs. Elevate righteousness and curb manipulation. Create of Egypt a place where your values incarnate. Bless this land and its people.
Prepare them for whatever comes next.