Islamists on the Rise in Egypt’s Presidential Race

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The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, is likely to win the second round of Egypt’s presidential election, with important ramification not only for Egypt but also for the region as a whole.
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In the opening round of Egypt’s presidential election, Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, and Ahmed Shafiq, a former prime minister under now-toppled president Hosni Mubarak, finished in first and second place. The two will go head-to-head in the next round on June 16 and 17, and the result of that vote will have far-reaching impact.

At the moment, it seems that Morsi could win up to 60 percent of the votes in the second round. A victory for the Muslim Brotherhood would bolster Islamists’ international standing and strengthen their position in Libya, Tunisia—where they already hold power—and Algeria, where, although they were defeated in the parliamentary election, they have no intention of leaving the political stage. And an Islamist victory in Egypt would certainly be a blow for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Malashenko is the chair of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Religion, Society, and Security Program. He also taught at the Higher School of Economics from 2007 to 2008 and was a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations from 2000 to 2006.
Alexey Malashenko
Scholar in Residence
Religion, Society, and Security Program
Moscow Center
More from this author...
An alternative outcome is possible if Egyptians suddenly vote against Morsi because they are concerned about the Islamists and the threat of potential destabilization. But this turn of events does not look very likely.

Even if the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate loses, the organization will remain one of the country’s biggest political forces. If Morsi is defeated, the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies will likely accuse the authorities of fraud and bring hundreds of thousands of their supporters into the streets, perhaps setting off a second wave of Arab uprisings. This time, the struggle might look less like a revolution and more like a civil war.

Meanwhile, the political lineup taking shape in the Muslim world, particularly in the Arab world, looks like a stable political “square” composed of supporters of authoritarian secular regimes, secular liberals, moderate Islamists, and radical Islamists. Of course, there are nuances in each component of the square, but each corner and side stands out clearly. Egypt is an almost perfect example in this respect, but the same structure is evident in other countries too.

The region will unavoidably face instability over the coming years. One of the reasons for that instability will be the almost inevitable disappointment the Arab revolutionaries will feel about their revolutions’ results. The young people from Tahrir Square will grow up, but the social and economic problems and other issues will remain unresolved. And some people are bound to clutch at the idea of an Islamic alternative, whether in moderate or radical form.

In this context, what happens in Egypt is very important not just for the country itself but for the region as a whole, and for a broader understanding of present and future developments within the Muslim community in general.

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In Fact



of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


years ago

Carnegie began an internship program. Notable alumni include Samantha Power.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


million people killed

in Cold War conflicts.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.


new airports

are set to be built in China by 2015.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


million Russian citizens

are considered “ethnic Muslims.”

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