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Why the outcomes of the Egyptian election might make the country’s economic challenge tougher.

egypt elections

The success of two polarizing figures in Egypt's presidential election could make it harder to put in place an effective government that can tackle an economic crisis and secure vital foreign aid.

May 31, 2012 5:32 by

Some business leaders in Egypt say they would still welcome a Shafiq presidency because of his past government experience and his commitment to making the country secure again.


“The problem affecting tourism was not political instability but security,” said a travel company executive, who did not wish to be named. “People will accept whoever is elected as they know it will have been a fair vote, though there may be some unhappiness at the beginning.”


While security is vital to boost tourism , which slumped by a third last year, Khalil Kandil, chief executive of private manufacturer K a ndil Steel, said Shafiq as president could not restore security through force.


“Business has deteriorated and people cannot find the goods they need. You’ve got to fix the economy first,” he said. “If you bring in a soldier to fix security, he’ll solve it for a month or two but then we’ll be back to more of the same.”


Egypt’s economy grew by just 0.3 percent in the second half of 2011 but is thought by some analysts to have contracted last year overall for the first time since the 1960s amid the turmoil of the February uprising.


Growth is forecast at around 3 percent for 2012, less than the average 5 percent a year recorded over the last decade.


Kandil said it would take a while for the Brotherhood to realise it needs to make political compromises to fix the economy and prove it can govern, while a win for Shafiq would raise the risk of renewed public protests against what many would see as a return to the Mubarak era.


Business managers also voiced concerns over Mursi’s lack of government experience.


“There would be a lot of trial and error,” said the travel company executive. “This makes us anxious. One candidate is known as a moderate and with the other, it is not known to what extent he is an Islamist.”

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