LOS ANGELES -- Most Egyptians say they are planning to vote in the country's first presidential election now set for late May. Eighty-six percent of Egyptians surveyed in December say they plan to cast ballots, showing slightly more interest than they did shortly before the parliamentary elections in November.
These results are based on Gallup surveys conducted before the election process was fast-tracked last week on the heels of the soccer stadium deaths in Port Said. Citing a government minister, state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported Wednesday that the presidential election will take place at the end of May instead of June.
Egyptians' willingness to engage in the electoral process is likely bolstered by their belief that the process will be fair and transparent. They show more confidence in the electoral process than they did before the parliamentary elections -- 88% expect the presidential election will be fair and honest.
When asked in an open-ended question whom they would vote for if the presidential election took place today, a majority of Egyptians (55%) say they do not know. But among those who name a candidate, the top vote-getter is Amr Moussa, former secretary general of the Arab League and a popular figure in Egyptian politics. Moussa is already campaigning with a message of curtailing the military's significant powers so that it is respected but not beyond reproach. Trailing with the support of 2% to 3% of Egyptians are Omar Suleiman, former head of Egypt's intelligence services, the current head of SCAF Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Ahmed Zewail, and Mohamed Selim al-Awa, a reform-oriented Islamist thinker and writer.
Former International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed Elbaradei withdrew from the presidential election late last month. ElBaradei's cited the "lack of a real democratic system" in which he can participate and the perception that "the [former] regime has not fallen yet." Some analysts see ElBaradei's withdrawal as a setback to liberal and secular forces in the Egyptian public space.
Gallup's surveys in Egypt ahead of the parliamentary election revealed that that a large contingent of Egyptian voters did not lean toward one party or another until just weeks before they voted. This delay led to a somewhat unexpected surge for Islamist political parties in the last weeks of campaigning. It is possible that Egyptians are similarly waiting to hear from presidential candidates and assess their platforms more clearly as voting day nears. This puts a significant premium on campaigns, candidates, and the public conversation that will surely take place on television and through social networks in the coming weeks.
A strong majority of Egyptians believe in the legitimacy of the electoral process and large percentages say they will vote in the coming presidential election. Both are positive signs for Egypt's future. This enthusiasm will be necessary for the reform process to continue in the post-Mubarak era.
Regardless of whom Egyptians choose as their next president, the country's new leader will face many obstacles. One is navigating the complex dynamics with Egypt's new parliament, which has been charged with drafting a new constitution. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated political party, the Freedom and Justice Party, have already proposed the idea that a parliamentary system and a prime minister might be more suitable for Egypt than a strong presidency. This type of rhetoric, coming from a constituency with the largest number of seats in parliament, could result in curtailed presidential powers.
Once the new constitution is written and the new president assumes power, there will be much debate. Some observers fear that this debate will result in a theoretical and legal battle between the executive and legislative branches on the separation of powers, distracting all from the pressing economic and political crisis unfolding in the country.
Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,077 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted Dec. 16-23, 2011, in Egypt. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.4 percentage points. Earlier surveys are based on face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, in Egypt. For results based on the total sample of national adults in these surveys, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±3.1 to ±3.5 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.
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