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And the winner is ...

Jun 27, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

Egypt has its new president, but the generals aren't sure how to take him

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate for Egypt's presidency, Mohammed Morsi, has been declared the winner of the first authentic (more or less) election in the ancient nation on the Nile.

In this day and age, a party called Muslim Brotherhood in that global region will bring an uneasy response in much of the rest of the world.

Even in Egypt, a more secular nation than many in the Middle East, Morsi is a deeply polarizing figure.

He has pledged to govern as a citizen of the world, and he has a big and important opportunity as the winner of his nation's first freely elected leader.

But "freely elected" only goes so far -- in this case only so far as the generals will let it.

While it is true that Morsi won an election in which voters actually had a choice and in which the outcome truly was in doubt, in recent weeks the Egyptian military ordered many presidential powers diluted or eliminated.

That would have been the case as well had Morsi's opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, been elected. He was a throwback to the toppled Mubarak dictatorship, and it was clear the generals were going to feel uncomfortable with the winner regardless of which candidate it was.

Said one voter of the ballot in Sunday's coverage before Morsi's certification as president: "We hate them both." In a nation still reeling from last year's revolution, the army would have preferred a more unifying slate of candidates. Welcome to the realm of modern elections, Egypt.

As the U.S. faces a presidential election of its own this year, we do and will have deep differences of belief and opinion about the issues and the candidates. Polarizaton of the electorate is nothing new here. One wonders when our nation might again see a landslide winner of a presidential election. There are more similarities between ourselves and Egypt than we might think.

If and when the military backs out of the picture to the point of becoming subordinate to the elected leaders rather than dominant over them, then Egypt's new president truly can be called free.

One thing we can be sure of, however, is that we needn't worry about the miliary generals trying to step in to commanderer the process. That remains the province of nations that have yet to figure out the right way to conduct and elect and govern a people.

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