When Egypt's High Election Commission disqualified 10 presidential candidates, including three front-runners, it threw the election into turmoil. All that can be said for certain is that democracy is messy, particularly in the aftermath of 30 years of military dictatorship.
Many people in the world's established democracies, including the United States, celebrated with Egyptians when the mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square toppled Hosni Mubarak from power a year ago. But revolutions, even peaceful ones, create power vacuums that parties and politicians scramble to fill. In Egypt, those parties include Islamist organizations across a spectrum of ideologies, plus the military, which continues to rule the country in a caretaker role. Events in such a struggle are bound to be unpredictable.
Organizing protests is one face of politics. Jockeying for votes in campaigns is another. Meanwhile, there may be only a rough consensus about the rules of the game, if, indeed, there are any. Even in longtime republics like Britain and the United States, political campaigning is a cutthroat affair, and they have established traditions and institutions. In Egypt, that's not so much the case.