Mohamed Mursi’s victory in Egypt’s presidential election takes the Muslim Brotherhood’s long power struggle with the military into a new round that will be fought inside the institutions of state themselves and may force new compromises on the Islamists.
Stripped of many of its powers in the past week by the generals, the presidency Mursi is set to assume bears little resemblance to the one that Hosni Mubarak was forced to give up 16 months ago after three decades in charge. That, together with a host of other factors, will put a break on how much Mursi, 60, will be able do in office.
Despite the historic magnitude of his victory – Mursi is Egypt’s first freely elected leader and comes from a group outlawed for most of its 84-year existence – the chances of rapid changes in domestic or foreign policies appear faint.
Some of Mursi’s more ambitious campaign pledges – his promise to implement Islamic sharia, for example – could well be shelved as the realities of office bite in a country that is deeply divided by the idea of Brotherhood rule.