Islamists will win the next elections, it seems unavoidable.
During the parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood and the Salafist Nour party together gathered over 70% of the vote. Many Egyptians will simply vote for what their Imam tells them to vote and with most Imams being Brotherhood the vote will be Brotherhood. And if the Brotherhood isn’t large enough it may seek coalition with the Salafists over those whose supporters now flood the streets.
What the protesters need to press for is an inclusive constitution that will take minority rights into account and press for an independent courts system. Democracy cannot mean that if the majority wants all Christians to leave the country or all women to wear a veil, the Christians have to leave the country and women wear a veil. Democracy also comes with rights enshrined in a constitution that each government must uphold for the good of the whole.
I’m afraid this is shock number two in a long array of future shocks in Egypt. Underlying the strife is a divide between internationally connected well educated urban people and (mostly rural) conservatives. The latter are in the vast majority while the former hold most key positions. These groups must come to some sort of agreement. The second faultline under Egypt is its population density which, when excluding desert areas, is twice that of Bangladesh. Every other loaf of bread that Egyptians eat is imported, indeed Egypt is only able to feed half its population and relies on imports for the other half. Fault line three then is the dire state of Egypt’s finances with foreign reserves dropping precipitously and projected to run out next year. Which will end Egypt’s ability to feed its own, let alone buy fuel. At that point either Egypt starves or international donors borrow Egypt more money increasing its already massive sovereign debt load or give it aid. It is unlikely that the few countries still running agricultural surplusses will guarantee such vast amounts of aid without political strings attached.
This decade will see continued and probably escalating crises in Egypt. And the only solution is for the Brotherhood to come to a clear understanding of the challenges ahead. The number of options open to them are very limited and there is no alternative to their rule.