Top Two Candidates Emerge in Egypt's Presidential Election

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The candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood and the last prime minister who served under Hosni Mubarak will do battle in a runoff election next month to determine Egypt's next president. The Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi was the clear leader after two days of voting, but did not recieve more than 50 percent of the total in a widely divided field. He will compete in the runoff with Ahmed Shafik on June 16 and 17.

The second round of voting represents a stark choice for Egyptians. Shafik is a former Air Force general who was tapped to serve as the prime minister shortly before Mubarak was deposed in last year's revolutionary uprising. He represents a link to the country's dictatorial past (and its current military caretaker government), but is running on promises of restoring law and order to a country fraught with chaos following the revolution. Morsi, on the other hand, represents the country's largest and most influential Islamic party. They want to make a clean break from Mubarak's reign, but are seen as a threat to the younger, less religious Egyptians who animated the revolution. Those secular voters might have outnumbered Brotherhood supporters, but were split between two leading liberal candidates. The Muslim Brotherhood already controls the largest bloc in Parliament after earlier local elections and a win Morsi would their control of the government. 

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Both the leading candidates are seen as divisive and polarizing figures, demonstrating clear divisions among the people over the direction the hope the country will head. Some hope for a more traditional, conservative nation, others want a return to the more orderly times of Mubarak, and still more promise a "second revolution" if real change doesn't come soon. Despite his support at the polls, according to Al Jazeera Shafik was chased from a polling place and pelted with shoes during Wednesday's voting. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.