As Mahmoud Salem observed in a prescient piece published by The Daily Beast on May 23, 2012, he believed that candidates who were perceived as tacking to the center, such as `Amr Musa, Egyptia’s former foreign minister and head of the League of Arab States, and `Abd al-Mun`im Abu al-Futuh, the breakaway candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood, were not likely to do well in the context of Egypt’s fractured electorate. He was right, when, against all expectations, both Musa and Abu al-Futuh failed to advance to the final round. If this pattern holds for the runoff, it would also mean that Ahmed Shafik will win: Muhammad Morsi has spent much of his time trying to assure voters that he is “moderate”, a centrist candidate, while Shafik has reiterated, time and time again, his determination to put an end to the revolution. While Shafik’s clarity may put off a lot of Egyptians, it certainly mobilizes his base, the fulul. Morsi’s attempts at moderation, by contrast, are unlikely to persuade the undecided that he is sincere, and in fact, they may believe that he is engaging them in double-talk, thus reducing the chances that they would vote for him. So too, his moderation will not inspire his own base; in fact, it might suppress the turnout of his own base to the extent that they believe his moderate promises.
Whatever the case may be, it seems increasingly clear that there may not be a “median voter” in Egypt right now, which means politics will only go from ugly to uglier. So, if you have not read it before, make sure to do so now: William Butler Yeats’ apocalyptic poem, The Second Coming.