Top of the Agenda: Egyptians Vote in Presidential Election
Egyptians are going to the polls today in the country's first democratic presidential election (WSJ), a direct result of the popular uprising that overthrew longtime leader Hosni Mubarak last year. Of the thirteen candidates, the four main contenders are Amr Moussa, a liberal secularist and former official in the Mubarak regime; Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force commander; Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood; and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a moderate Islamist. A runoff between the two leading candidates is expected in June.
"The group's internal discipline is being called into serious question. A Morsi defeat--particularly at the hands of presidential competitor Aboul Fotouh, himself a Brotherhood defector--could spur a major internal split. The most difficult question is what the group would do if Aboul Fotouh faced, say, former foreign minister Amr Moussa in the second round. Brotherhood leaders, although they won't say so publicly, strongly prefer a Moussa presidency," writes Shadi Hamid for The Atlantic.
"His vision of Egypt as an Islamic democracy run by technocrats rather than ideologues has prompted comparisons to Turkey and created an aura around Abou el-Fotouh as Egypt's Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It has also helped him win some disparate endorsements, from the arch-conservative Salafi party on one side of the political map and from Tahrir leftists on the other, including Ghonim himself," writes Newsweek's Dan Ephron.
"But what does Moussa's success say about the state of Egypt's politics? The word 'revolution' has been thrown about for the past 16 months to describe the upheaval in the country; a victory by the 75-year-old veteran of internecine battles within Hosni Mubarak's regime and the old Arab order suggests something closer to a course correction. Moussa, for better or worse, is not the culmination of anything approaching a revolution," writes David Kenner for ForeignPolicy.com.
"The next president of Egypt will likely be subject to a new kind of politics in which demands from below can no longer be deflected, bribed, or beaten into silence," writes CFR's Steven Cook.
NORTH KOREA: Recent satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site suggested the country was preparing for a new nuclear test. At the same time, North Korea warned it would take "countermeasures" (NYT) if the United States imposed fresh sanctions in response to such a test.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council--China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States--and Germany are resuming negotiations with Iran today (al-Jazeera) in Baghdad over its contested nuclear program. The West maintains the program is for the manufacturing of nuclear weapons, while Iran says it is for peaceful purposes.
Iran's more receptive tone with Western powers in nuclear talks signals concerns about the bite of sanctions and the threat of an Israeli military strike, says CFR's Ray Takeyh in this CFR Interview.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel resisted calls for euro bonds--the collectivization of eurozone debt--ahead of a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels tonight, during which newly elected French President François Hollande is expected to push for the measure (NYT) as a response to the sovereign debt crisis.
GREECE: The leader of Greece's rising radical leftist party, Alexis Tsipras, said he will abandon EU-mandated austerity measures (DerSpiegel) for his indebted country if he wins fresh elections slated for June, during a closely watched visit to Berlin yesterday.
U.S. voters' confidence in the economy reached its highest level since January 2008, after a "long, steady climb out of the doldrums," according to a report by Gallup.
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will make an appeal to Latino voters today with a speech at the Latino Coalition's annual economic summit. While immigration is a key topic for the Latino community, the most important issue for Latinos is the economy, ABC News notes.
Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy, check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.