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Was Khaled Ali fighting a lost cause?

With most of Khaled Ali's supporters seeing his chances as close to nil from the start, they praise his revolutionary platform and commend his performance

Ahram Online , Friday 25 May 2012
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Khaled Ali (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
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"We truly believe that he can be our president in 2016; and that is after our society has become more open and accepting of the idea," Ahmed Fawzy a campaign member of presidential contender Khaled Ali said as results of the presidential vote were trickling out on Friday.

Ali was considered by many to a candidate of the revolution, along with Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, Hamdeen Sabbahi, Khaled Ali, Hisham El-Bastawisi, and Abul Ezz El-Hariri. All three except Abul-Fotouh are leftist candidates.

Ali ran on a programme of social justice and gained the support of a large group of supporters ranging from human rights activists, several revolutionary groups, and leftist intellectuals.

Fawzy explained that Ali's low electoral support was very much expected and that the reasons as to why Ali did not gain enough votes, mainly has to do with a lack of adequate funding, and a weak volunteer base for his campaign.

"But the main point of strength which we are very proud of, is the effect we have had on some members of our society," he explained.

According to Fawzy, Ali's campaign was the only one that truly introduced a grassroots discourse of social justice and a civil state.

Many Ali supporters decided to support him despite his weak chances. For those, voting on principle, rather than strategically, they saw in Khaled Ali the most revolutionary candidate and were impressed by his political programme and what it offered.

Once the final list of candidates was announced in April 2012, there were several calls for all the "revolutionary candidates" to unite and reach a consensus candidate in order not to split votes. The idea was for candidates who separately appeared not to have a realistic chance to unite as a single force to challenge the Islamist and former regime figures. After a number of false starts, finding a consensus revolutionary candidate did not materialise.

However, many suspected that Abul-Fotouh did not cede to such demands for a union with leftist candidates in order to not lose his Islamist support base.

Most importantly, following the elimination of Salafist presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail, the Nour Party and Al-Jamaa Al-Salafiya, both Salafist parties, threw their weight behind Abul-Fotouh's campaing.

Nihal El-Banna, a member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party's (ESDP) steering committee believes it was a "childish hope" in the first place for the different candidates' supporters to expect that such a unity could really take place between the different candidates.

El-Banna is one of many supporters of Khaled Ali, who ended up voting for the "best option" out of the frontrunners—Hamdeen Sabbahi. Not wanting to cast a vote for Abul-Fotouh as an Islamist-leaning candidate nor Ahmed Shafiq as a former regime remnant, the next best option for El-Banna was was Sabbahi.

"I made that choice, as did many in my position, because primarily we wanted to end the battle with the least possible casualties," she explained.

El-Banna further added that she made her choice mainly after seeing that it was expected that Sabbahi would make a promising showing in the Delta and Alexandria.

She adds, "Despite the significant reservations I may have regarding Sabbahi's Nasserist ideology, we made our choice largely based on the fact that we do not want an Islamist, Morsi, or a felfoul (former regime remnant), Shafiq".

Well-known activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah (@alaa) who was also a member of Ali's campaign wrote on the microblogging website Twitter, "We were not expecting any high results for Khaled Ali, but the votes were definitely much more than we expected."

 By midday Thursday, Ali had received a mere 12,000 votes out of approximately 6 million voters in 16 of the 27 governorates counted total.

Even before the announcement of final results, as the possibility of Morsi and Shafiq facing one another in runoffs looking increasingly likely, conversations on Twitter were bemoaning the failure to settle on a consensus revolutionary candidate. For instance, @Jonbushra1 drying writing, "Those who boycotted the elections, voted Khaled Ali or Hamdeen Sabbahi have my full respect; but next time, we should agree to unite our forces when we are in prison."

Activist and a campaign coordinator for Khaled Ali, Malek Adly (@malekadly), optimistically noted: "I am happy that the candidate with the closest political programme to that of my candidate is succeeding," referring to Sabbahi.

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