Monday, November 04, 2013

Secular/Anti-Secular and Left/Right in Egypt; reexamining the 2012 presidential elections

The rabbit hole goes deeper still, but also yields a better explanation of what happened during summer 2012. Following on the earlier post today, I decided to look at the breakdown of attitudes toward free markets by perception of religious role in politics and views of whether the respondents wanted a larger or smaller role.

Below is an association plot, which shows for each cross cell between these two variables deviations from an independence model.

Association table for attitudes toward religion in politics and the role of free markets
Two big sets of deviations are apparent:

  • The anti-secular left is represented by the two positive big boxes near the bottom left (role of religion is large, that is a good thing, and disagree that free markets help most people)
  • The anti-secular right is represented by two positive big boxes near the top right (role of religion is small, that is a bad thing, and agree strongly that free markets help most people)
That explains why the religious "right" (socially speaking, I refer to this as anti-secular) is fragmented. Those with more Salafi leanings, I suppose, who think that more religion in politics would be a good thing, and lament its absence, are pro-market! Is this the Khairat El-Shater types? In the meantime, those who believe that there is already a large role of religion in politics and that this is a good thing are anti-market. Is this the Abdul-Monem Abul-Fotouh types?

Of course, there are also the secular left (top two large negative boxes in the second column from right, those who believe that role of religion is small and that is a good thing, but want less free market), and the secular right (bottom two negative boxes in second column from right, role of religion is small, and that is a good thing, but they would like more free market).

Current polarization of Egyptian society is along the secular anti-secular dimension, but because both have right-left divisions on economic grounds, neither can get their act together.

As argued in a much earlier post (and lecture at AUC) in May 2012 before the presidential elections, I argued that the political center was split between the anti-secular left (Abou El Fotouh) and the secular left (Sabbahi). Sure enough, these are the four large positive boxes near the bottom left and top right shown here. As I argued then, a coalition of the two would have easily won the election, but in the event, votes were divided and the two extremes of the anti-secular right (Morsi) and the secular right (Shafiq) made it to the second round, with low enthusiasm for both.


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