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Source: The Nation

Egypt is gripped by election fever. A frenetic mix of excitement and anxiety has taken over the country on the eve of its first-ever competitive presidential poll fifteen months after thirty-year autocrat Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office in a popular uprising.

Scuffed campaign posters plaster neighborhoods across the capital, clinging to everything from walls to lamp posts to car windows. The leading candidates—their expressions alternating between smiling to solemn—stare past one another from giant billboards looming over the city bustle below. Campaign ads echo across the airwaves while election news consumes newspaper coverage. Television and radio talk shows host daily discussions and debates.

On the street, conversations about the election spill out from cafes, bus stops and public squares, blending into the cacophony of Cairo traffic. As the date of the poll approaches, the most common question people greet one another with is, “Who will you vote for?”

Major questions remain about the powers of the elected president, the future economic and political role of the military and the legitimacy of the entire transition process itself, yet anticipation for the poll—scheduled for May 23–24—remains high.

Fifty-two million eligible voters will have a chance to select from one of thirteen candidates appearing on the ballot. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a likely runoff between the top two contenders is scheduled for the middle of June, with a handover of executive authority from the Supreme Council of Armed Forces to the elected president by the end of the month.

For the first time in Egypt’s history, the winner of the presidential election is not a foregone conclusion.

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