As the presidential race draws closer, the comparison between both candidates is at its highest. But there is one comparison that strikes the most: the Nasser complex.
Supporters of both former Military Chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and self-proclaimed Nasserist politican Hamdeen Sabahi maintain a huge comparison of their beloved candidates to the late leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Nasser, Egypt’s second President and the President of the United Arab Republic (after the unification with Syria) was one of the Free Officers which overthrew the British-influenced Monarchy. He was known for his immense charisma, of which led to huge demonstrations after his ‘resignation’ post the Six-Day war, and he was an admirable leader known for his Pan-Arab and Socialist ideals.
Nasser called onto the Arabs to unite, and was known for his anti-imperialistic thoughts. During the Cold War, Nasser’s neutral position caused a lot of anger from the west, but was later confronted with assistance from the East. His leadership spread throughout the Arab world, succeeding in efforts to strengthen ties with Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and more. He died in 1970 through an alleged heart attack, although there remain many talks of a conspiracy on the topic.
After the events that took place on the 30th of June, Sisi mania quickly swept Egypt. Sisi surfaced as the loving leader many had been longing for. His style of dialogue was one that was firm yet gentle. He appeared as a leader who cares deeply about the nation and its people.
And that’s exactly what we needed at the time; someone to show his compassion and love for this weary population after a year of “violent” tones. So the comparison to Nasser began, and Sisi-mania was an epidemic.
Meanwhile, Sabahi became famous since the 2012 Presidential Elections for his Nasser-like ideologies. A self-proclaimed Nasserist, his ideals favor more government control. Sabahi dreams of a country that is more self-dependent and one that provides more services to those in need. More importantly, his ideals long the return of the Arab identity.
Now we understand that this comparison in terms of Sisi is one that relates to the charismatic, firm, and loving military leader that seems to be our savior. Whilst, on the other hand, Sabahi is the man who has been struggling against corruption all his life, cares for the poor and who believes the government needs even more control.
In recent days, the image of both men seems to be changing in the eyes of some. Sisi’s charming talk seems to have been overused, or at least used at the wrong time. Egyptians are now awaiting constructive plans, steps that would solve issues related to security, power, pollution, infrastructure, agriculture, poverty, unemployment, and more: solid steps that would finally bring change. And that seems to fade out of the Nasser image resembled in Sisi.
Moreover, Sabahi is the opposite. A constructive plan has been put forth that is of the liking of many, or at least they just admire the fact that he has a plan to begin with unlike his counterpart. However, he seems to lack in the charisma department, as numerous people question him simply for the way he talks and presents his ideas. Both candidates, after mediocre showing in interviews, seem to raise more questions than answer them. None of them though have lost any votes: both are smart and know their target audience. Sisi seems to be more cautious and Sabahi more out-spoken.
The race is still very well up for grabs. Sisi, the favorite, seems to raise a lot of questions but he knows he has a solid base of followers. Sabahi, the underdog, is trying to win over the people that are considering boycotting, as he signaled a comparison with previous elections when it ended between Ahmed Shafiq and Mohamed Morsi. At the end, whether you are a fan of Nasser or not, rest assured, as neither candidate even comes close.