EGYPT ALSO VOTES, FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH – AT 7:09 A.M. ET: Egypt is in such a mess that we wonder what this weekend's presidential vote will really mean. But the election is going ahead, which I guess is a step in the right direction. I guess. Tentatively. Maybe.
(Reuters) - Egyptians choosing their president freely for the first time faced a daunting choice between a former general from the old guard and an Islamist who says he is running for God, leaving many voters perplexed and fearful of the future.
A win for either Ahmed Shafik - the last prime minister of ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak - or Mohamed Morsy, a U.S.-educated engineer who would turn Egypt into an Islamic democracy, will go far to define the outcome of the wave of Arab Spring uprisings last year.
I'm not so sure I accept the term "Islamic democracy." Democracy is more than an election, and Islamists have not proven themselves too good at the other parts.
"We have to vote because these elections are historic," said Amr Omar, voting in Cairo, who said he was a revolutionary youth activist. "I will vote for Morsy... Even if it means electing the hypocritical Islamists, we must break the vicious cycle of Mubarak's police state."
Turnout at polling stations in several areas seemed lower on Saturday than during the first round. Polls re-opened at 8 a.m. on Sunday (0600 GMT) and were due to close at 9 p.m.
With no opinion polls, it was impossible to forecast who will emerge the winner by Monday - and whoever it is may face anger and accusations of foul play. Both men have wide support but many voters may be staying away, unhappy at a choice of extremes after centrist candidates were knocked out in a first round last month.
A sample of voter comments to Reuters near polling stations suggest many had put aside doubts about Shafik, whose campaign has gained momentum since he entered the race as an outsider.
COMMENT: As we said in "Short Takes" last night, root for the Mubarak hack. At least we know what we're getting. The Islamists are already claiming victory, but no one really knows. Egypt makes Chicago look like a model democracy. In Egypt it isn't only the average dead who vote. The mummies participate as well. And Charlton Heston was seen pulling up in his chariot.
For America, this hasn't been a good year in the Mideast. Our influence, thanks to the policy of weakness pursued by Obama, is waning. And the threats to international security keep growing.
June 17, 2012