Although the MB had been a bit reluctant to lend support to the revolution -- because it is reformist -- its significant role in the overthrow of Mubarak cannot be denied. It not only sent its members to Tahrir Square to prop up the revolution, but also filled in the resulting security void. Yet, the hesitations, indecision and errors made during the ensuing period have created risks for an election it could easily win. But what does winning the election mean? The MB has survived many pressures and prosecutions during its 80-year history. Except for its partial achievements, it generally faced discrimination and suppression because of its inclination to get involved in politics. The MB was established in 1928 in Egypt where there was an intense search for leadership in the Arab world after the abolition of the caliphate. The MB advocated the idea that the country can be saved from partial British occupation only by sticking to the ideals of Islamic unity. Although it had helped Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrow the king, whom it accused of collaborating with the British, Nasser later tyrannized the MB considerably.
Despite the relative easing of pressures in the 1970s, the MB continued to exist as an official banned movement that was actually permitted. Due to the regime’s intimidation tactics, its leaders were frequently and arbitrarily arrested and jailed. During this process, the movement permeated education, health and humanitarian organizations, trade unions and clubs to expand its base. After the fall of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia early last year, it lent support to the revolution in Egypt and got involved in the overthrow of Mubarak. The MB couldn’t manage the revolution process in the post-Mubarak era well. Initially, with a view to making clear that it was eager to share power, it announced that it would not nominate candidates for the presidential election and would be content with half the seats in parliament. However, due to disagreement over the constitution, the MB distanced itself from the revolutionary groups in March 2011. Fearing the constitutional phrase, “The official religion of the state is Islam,” may be abolished, it did not want a new constitution to be drafted; instead, it collaborated with the Salafis, the military and Mubarak’s party in their efforts to revise the old constitution. In the parliamentary elections held in the fall, the MB secured the majority of the seats in Parliament by nominating more candidates than they had originally promised. Meanwhile, it closed its eyes to the violence the military resorted to in suppressing the protests of the revolutionary youths.
However, it saw that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) did not change the government, although they dominated the majority of the seats in Parliament. So it backpedaled from its promises and nominated Morsi as presidential candidate. This move made both revolutionary youths and the military unhappy. As the transition period dragged on, its harsh discourse and failure to take revolutionary youths into consideration caused it to make more errors and the MB started to lose popular support, and the military started to corner them. Relying on the old constitution, the SCAF are staging postmodern interventions. The rise of the MB, the increased concerns about Islamists and the failure to manage the process well have lead to the SCAF winding up the Constitutional Drafting Commission. The MB secured the majority of the seats at this commission. Two days before the election, the Supreme Court canceled the membership of one-third of parliament on the grounds that they were not properly elected -- this decision reminds one of the Turkish Constitutional Court’s controversial “367” ruling. With the same justification, the SCAF abolished parliament. While the voters were being counted, it further curbed parliament’s and the president’s powers and authorities.
Morsi was elected as president, but his government will be endorsed by the SCAF as there is no parliament to back him. Currently, the MB’s position and power are weaker than at the beginning of the revolution and even before the last elections. Moreover, their harsh discourse in general and their treating Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and his followers as traitors in particular have undermined the MB’s prestige. The military’s post-election moves have clearly indicated that the MB needs not numbers, but the political backing of democratic powers. The most important and equally dangerous outcome of this process is that pro-Mubarak groups and organizations have boosted their morale and self-confidence. As it won the presidential election, the MB revived and gave legitimacy to the old regime as its most dangerous rival. If it had not won, it would have been worse. Nevertheless, Morsi’s victory will boost the moral of revolutionaries in Syria and the wheel of change in the region will continue to turn around. Although it may obscure the appeal of Turkish model in Egypt to a certain extent, his victory will be overall more to the benefit of Turkey. As the establishment and certain foreign forces would not want the MB to be successful, Morsi will face many challenges in government. It will take quite a long time before Egypt can get back on track.
*Associate Professor Ahmet Uysal is a lecturer at Osmangazi University.