The lives of Abdel Raheem and others like him, far from Tahrir Square, help illustrate how it is possible that Egyptians could revolt against the regime, then turn around just a year and a half later and vote someone back to power who represents the same system. To them, Mr. Shafiq’s connection to the past means he also represents their best chance of stability that might improve their daily lives.
In the first round of Egypt’s presidential elections, Mr. Shafiq earned the most votes in the Sharqiya governorate, which has traditionally been considered a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood. That Shafiq came in ahead of the Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, whose hometown is in Sharqiya, was a shock. But many in the governorate say they plan to vote for him again.
“Shafiq knows politics; he has an awareness of how the system works,” says Abdel Raheem, waving away the dozens of flies buzzing around a worn butcher block. He says he expects prices would drop under a Shafiq presidency, and security would improve. “He knows where all the thieves are located, and he could round them up in one hour.”
Shafiq has promised to restore security within hours of taking office, and that is an appealing promise to many Egyptians. Under Mubarak, police stood on nearly every corner, police stations were feared places of abuse, and crime was low. After the revolt, police withdrew, and crime flourished in their absence. Even now, with most of the police force back on duty, lawlessness is higher than it was in the days of Mubarak.