Magdi Abdelhadi writes: Egypt’s secular half, along with a sizeable Christian minority, is bracing itself for an Islamist parliament, the first in the country’s history. While many are stunned and terrified at the prospect, some still pin their hopes, paradoxically, on the very institution that’s largely to blame for the country’s democratic deficit – the army. They think only the soldiers can thwart, or at least to slow down, the Islamist steamroller.
No one knows for sure how that potential stand-off might evolve, if it were to happen at all. Optimists rule out a descent into bloodbath (as happened in Algeria in 1990 when the military cancelled parliamentary elections the Islamists were poised to win). Others predict a Pakistani scenario (the emergence of an Islamist-inclined officer like Zia-ul-Haq, acceptable to both the army and the Islamists) or, just as bad, a repeat of Egypt’s recent past when the military fabricated a pretext to suspend all politics in 1954.
By mid-January, when the final election results are known, we should have a better idea. So, far the Islamists have won two-thirds of the seats in the first and second phases of the vote – gains they are expected to consolidate in the third stage. Speculation and fears aside, the Islamist landslide should not have come as a surprise to close readers of Egyptian recent history.