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Can the Muslim Brotherhood fix Egypt's economy?

The Muslim Brotherhood is set to win big in parliament - but can they help Egypt's economy recover?
Global Post | 04.12.2011
Egypt’s official election results for the first round of the recent parliamentary vote have been delayed until Friday because of the record turnout, but early indicators already point to a big win for the country’s Islamist groups.

??The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which would have been banned under the regime of the ousted former president, Hosni Mubarak, appears to be leading with 40 percent of the vote in the first of three election phases.

Initial results also show a surprising 20 percent for Nour, an ultra-conservative Salafist Muslim political party.

After decades of persecution by the state, Egypt's Islamists may finally be in a position to dominate the country's new parliament. The next legislature will be tasked with writing Egypt's new constitution when it opens its first session in early 2012.

Whoever wins a plurality in the future parliament will also inherit an ailing post-uprising economy.

A new report from Egypt’s ruling military council warned that the country’s foreign reserves could plunge by one-third next month. The military official also suggested that reducing subsidies - such as fuel - might help cut the country's growing decific.

Most of the political parties that ran in the recent election spent too much time campaigning on religion, one analyst told Daily News Egypt on Thursday. It was a "grave mistake," he said, not communicating to voters more about poverty and plans for Egypt's economic recovery.

But as Matthew Yglesias points out in Slate, Egypt’s future leaders need to remember that a stagnating economy was one of the major reason that protests erupted earlier this year.

One point that tends to get lost in the shuffle of foreign policy commentary is that the fall of Mubarak and the Arab Spring in North Africa are substantially driven by economics. An authoritarian regime that delivers steadily rising living standards for the bulk of the population is going to find it relatively easy to silence dissident intellectuals and political activist. A regime that can't deliver the goods is vulnerable to mass protests.