As published on PolicyMic
Mohamed Morsi is Egypt’s next president. The anxiously awaited results of Egypt’s presidential election were announced on Sunday, and Morsi, who initially entered the race as a back-up to the seemingly more likely candidate Khairat al-Shater, was declared victorious.
Morsi narrowly beat out rival Ahmed Shafiq with 51.73% of the vote in the second round.
Morsi’s presidency represents a lot of firsts: Egypt’s first democratically elected president, modern Egypt’s first civilian leader, and the first elected Islamist head of state in the Arab world. Questions abound as to what his leadership will mean for Egypt and for the U.S. The story of Egypt’s post-revolutionary political transition is not yet drawing to a conclusion, though, and the questions that analysts and observers should be asking revolve not around Morsi’s conservative Islamism, but around legitimacy of leadership and divisions of power.
Recent actions taken by the SCAF disbanded the lower house of Parliament, gave the SCAF the right to form a new Constituent Assembly, and gave the SCAF control over the military at the expense of the executive. Although fears that the trend would continue with the SCAF throwing the election in Shafiq’s favor were not realized, it is apparent that the SCAF will attempt to retain control despite any supposed transition of power. The question, then, is how much control, and how the Muslim Brotherhood and the people of Egypt will react.
At this point, the hallmark of a successful transition is likely to be the achievement of political and economic stability: The turmoil that has followed the January 25 Revolution has rendered democracy a second priority for many. Morsi’s margin of victory is less than 3.5%, hardly a mandate. Particularly without the support of the SCAF and without a constitution, he will certainly have his work cut out for him establishing that stability (and rebuilding trust in the Brotherhood’s political leadership).
His success or failure in doing so will largely determine the implications of his presidency for Egypt, the region, and the world. Any predictions to this end, however, cannot be based solely on the political history and credentials of Morsi and the Brotherhood, but must place equal weight on the forthcoming actions of the SCAF.