Egypt’s election bans just might save its democracy

Banning Abu Ismail from the presidential race more or less makes this problem go away. The remaining serious candidates agree that the cold peace with Israel can be preserved. The US aid money (or, at least for now, the $1.3 billion in yearly military assistance) can keep flowing, and the armed forces can stay happy. Rejectionist Islamism can be treated as an aberration, not a disturbing trend. The only cost is to the democratic preferences of Egyptians. (The irony is that, officially, Abu Ismail was banned for having an American mother — which perhaps offers a psychoanalytic angle on his hostility.)…

The upshot is that whoever becomes president will be someone who got the job more or less through the manipulations of the electoral commission. He (the other main players are all male) will not represent one of the leading political parties, which means he will lack the political backing to challenge the military and will have to try to govern in concert with Parliament.