Optimism is foolish when not backed by reason. It is difficult to feel optimistic about the Egyptian Presidential election. Elections are good, but only if they provide legitimacy and stability.

In spite of all the media hype, the most likely final round candidates were always going to be Mursi and another man, most likely one linked to the old regime and military. It is looking increasingly like Shafiq.

Whether one of these two wins outright or whether there is a run-off is irrelevant. The primary issue is that the MB has always been determined to take over the state and control all its levers. They have systematically and ruthlessly taken over many sectors, including syndicates and universities. They are still under-represented in business, but that is an easy issue to deal with once in power. They will coerce and marginalize businessmen who do not agree with them. The extent of their penetration of the police force is not known, but that force is in free fall and the MB has already indicated they want a “percent” of all incoming candidates to the police academy as it is being rebuilt. The last remaining, and most important, institution is the military. The MB has tried before, in 1952, to recruit army coup plotters. That turned out badly for them when Nasser proved less than malleable. It is not clear what they will do now.

If Mursi is not elected President the MB will face a decision: accept the new President, and in all likelihood curtail its influence for a generation or perhaps forever, or revolt claiming fraud. They have already prepared the ground for that through various proclamations. And they do have weapons and a proto-militia. A revolt will likely trigger a split within the MB ranks, with the majority supporting El-Shater and a revolt. How the Army will respond, and whether this might cause a collapse of the Army discipline is not known.

The MB, for all its “nice talk” and attempt to appeal to international actors, is forcing Egypt into a fateful decision. Everything is in motion and there is no stopping it at all. Such is the logic and risks of revolutions, inevitable and necessary as they sometimes are.

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