The mass protest that rocked Egypt on January 25, 2011, was an epoch-making event. For many, the dramatic rising up of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people to shake off the yoke of an authoritarian regime constitutes a bright line that demarcates a long, grim, dark era of stasis from a bright new one of dynamism and change. One could be forgiven, then, for thinking that there was likely to be little continuity between the politics of the old era and the new, for thinking that the Egypt of before the January 25, 2011, revolution – that country known as “Mubarak's Egypt” in much of the scholarly literature (see, e.g., Springborg 1989; Bianchi 1990; Starrett 1991; Brownlee 2002 and Blaydes 2010) – was a different place altogether from the Egypt we experience and examine today.
But, for everything that has changed in the land by the Nile, one thing has remained the same: its inhabitants continue to turn their backs on parties of the left. Though the revolution that unseated Mubarak began with the slogan “ʿaysh, ḥurriya, ʿadāla ijtimaʿiyya [bread, freedom, and social justice],” it ended with Islamist electoral victories that brought both the legislative and executive under the sway of religious conservatives. Likewise, during the Mubarak years, that sliver of the legislature that was captured by the opposition never featured more than a handful of leftists. Islamists – or, more specifically, the Muslim Brotherhood – dominated the space allowed to the regime's opponents (Table 2.1).