1. Establishment Candidate: Ahmed Shafiq
Ahmed Shafiq is the technocratic face of the old order. A friend of the disgraced former President Hosni Mubarak, who, just like his old boss, distinguished himself as a war veteran and senior commander of Egyptian Air Force.
Shafiq’s extensive government experience is both his major strength and liability. He can count on the support of the establishment that fears radical changes in Egyptian society: the army, security apparatus, senior civil servants and upper middle class Egyptians hostile to Islamist candidates.
For the same reason, democracy activists, Islamists and many liberals say Shafiq’s presidency would cement the influence of the military on the new political system.Read more...
2. Muslim Brotherhood: Mohammad Mursi
A candidate of Egypt’s strongest political party would normally be the frontrunner in the polls, but Mohammad Mursi jumped into the campaign in the last minute, after disqualification of Khairat Al Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood’s first choice. This left him with little time to build up a profile that would extend beyond the Brotherhood’s shadowy leadership circles.
Even so, Mursi is able to fall back on Brotherhood’s unrivalled grassroots organization, bringing in large sections of urban and rural poor, conservative middle classes and Islamist businessmen. He will probably fare less well among young Islamists and those looking for a more exciting politician.Read more...
3. Veteran Diplomat: Amr Moussa
Amr Moussa is one of the few member of the old establishment who during his long diplomatic career managed to cultivate an independent profile and win genuine popularity among ordinary Egyptians. Head of the Arab League 2001-2011, Moussa won praise on the street for his outspoken criticism of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
Unlike Shafiq, Moussa cautiously backed the anti-Mubarak uprising in 2011, but many still consider him tainted by association with the old regime. A self-styled liberal, he will look for support among urban middle class voters who want neither the return to the old days, nor an Islamist-dominated Egypt. Probably the favored candidate of Egypt’s foreign partners.
4. Islamist Maverick: Dr. Abdel Moneim Abou al-Fotouh Abdel:
Often described as the consensus candidate, medical professional Abou al-Fotouh has both the popular appeal lacking in Mursi’s campaign, and a clean record when it comes to the old regime. Abou al-Fotouh was the liberal face of the Muslim Brotherhood and repeatedly fell out with the group’s leadership, until he finally left the movement in 2011 to launch an independent presidential campaign.
Supporter of the 2011 revolution, an advocate of moderate Islam, and proponent of youth’s participation in political life, Abou al-Fotouh managed to build up a successful populist message that attracted both ultra-conservative Salafis and liberals, as well as many young members of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, he lacks the Brotherhood’s organizational strength, while many secular Egyptians will still shy away from an Islamist candidate.
5. Independent Left: Hamdeen Sabbahi
The co-founder of al-Karamah Party is the only top candidate with a distinctly leftist political message. Sabbahi hails the heritage of the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, and uses the language of Egyptian and Arab nationalism, with strong focus on social justice.
Sabbahi can count on the support of secular, leftist factions of the revolutionary movement that has continued with pro-democracy protests even after Mubarak’s fall, but he will struggle to gain much momentum outside main urban areas.Go to Current Situation in the Middle East / Egypt