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Egypt Monocle: Two candidates, one dire economy

Economic issues have taken a back seat to political instability, lacking security and ideological power struggles.
14.06.12 | Interesting article at Egypt Monocle

Egypt’s presidential candidates are polarizing on many levels, but they do have one thing in common: both face a dire economic situation that needs quick fixing as well as a long-term vision to solve countless longstanding socioeconomic ailments.

In the June 16-17 runoff, voters face the unenviable choice between ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, and the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Mohamed Morsi.

Over the past year and a half, economic issues have taken a back seat to political instability, lacking security and ideological power struggles that have escalated to debilitating proportions.

Meanwhile, an economic slowdown continues with the financial sector under increasing pressure, the tourism sector still stalling, unemployment on the rise and scarce foreign reserves threatening energy supplies. Not to mention foreign investors staying at bay and playing wait-and-see.

The hope for a swift economic revolution has more or less faded, and the elected president will be left picking up the pieces. Each candidate brings to the table an economic program they see fit to fix the economy and spur investment, which Egypt heavily relies on to create jobs and battle chronic unemployment.

But with polarizing politics come divergent economic views.

On the one hand, Shafik is a former military man seen as a stalwart of the old regime by his opposition and the herald of stability and security by his supporters. He promises an effective police force and security apparatus, improved law enforcement and a heavy-handed state to achieve macroeconomic stability and economic development.

His opponent Morsi, currently head of the FJP, is viewed with mistrust by some: the front-man of a party that has failed to make an impact in parliament — where it enjoys a majority — and failed to deliver on the demands of the revolution.