Elections in perspective

Gamal Abdel-Gawad , Tuesday 30 Nov 2010

Reform in Egypt will take place only when people return to politics

The violence, money and counterfeiting which occurred during previous elections made Egyptians lose confidence in elections and in politicians, so they abandoned the process altogether. I am confident that millions of Egyptians will appreciate the positives of the last election, and it will give them incentive to become involved once again in the political process.
Reform in Egypt cannot take place without the return of the people to politics. We have made great strides on this issue over the past decade, but there are still more steps that we need to take. A congestion of politics in the press, media, political parties and demonstrations are all manifestations of the progress that has been made to bring back politics to the Egyptian street. However, low voter turnout indicates that what has been achieved so far is not enough. Seeing the results of the elections will help restore a faith that has weakened and boost participation which has dropped.
Simplistic talk about violence, buying votes and ballot rigging will undermine the correct reading of election results and their implications. The violations during this week’s balloting are dwarfed by what took place five years ago. Simple minds are quick to resort to old stereotypes in describing what took place at ballot boxes two days ago. They are squandering the opportunity for Egyptians to build on what they have achieved together.
Slinging mud at everything may be acceptable behaviour for reporters promoting their stories in the press and media, but it is inappropriate conduct for politicians. The latter’s actions greatly harm the country and the political powers they represent.
When we were young reckless revolutionaries, we rejoiced in the mistakes of the government, and took pleasure in any sign of decline in society or state. Our simple minds made us believe that the worse the corrosion, the closer we were to salvation. We celebrated the ruin we hoped for, but salvation did not come any quicker and it did not bring us any closer to a better tomorrow.
We grew up and became reformers, annoyed by missteps and despised them. We learnt to pick up the trail, build on progress and demand more. I write this to warn against those who, perhaps well intentioned, choose to sully everything with the assumption that it will beckon a sunnier tomorrow.

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