Trying to figure out who will win the Egyptian election is a losing proposition, since the polls are contradictory and up to forty percent of the voters are still undecided.
But a few hours spent interviewing people in the working class district of Imbaba – which provided a lot of votes for the Muslim Brotherhood in last fall’s parliamentary elections – revealed that the Brothers have lost a lot of ground. “We chose them before because we wanted to give them a chance,” I was told by teacher Saad Mohammed, “but they just talk and don’t do anything. We hoped for security and jobs.”
I heard variants of this refrain over and over. Last fall the Brotherhood candidates for parliament were viewed as “good people” because of their charitable work and their religious piety. But now there is buyer’s remorse. An elderly tea server in one café told me, “Forget about the propaganda the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) used the first time. Now there is chaos and we need someone strong. “
So of twenty or so people I spoke with in several cafes – drivers, carpenters, laborers, and the unemployed, the large majority were voting for the two secular candidates associated with the Mubarak regime – Ahmed Shafiq or Amr Moussa.