Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Hosni Mubarak

Highs: Egypt's octogenarian leader has governed since 1981 and won't let slip his grasp over Egyptian politics anytime soon. In two rounds of voting on Nov. 28 and Dec. 5, Mubarak's National Democratic Party dominated the results in an election, reducing the Muslim Brotherhood, a powerful Islamist opposition group, from 88 seats to none. With his opponents largely frozen out, Mubarak will likely cement his hold on power in presidential elections next year — some also suggest Mubarak's son, Gamal, may be poised to take the reins from his father, whose health has been in question.

Lows: The elections in November were widely criticized for alleged rigging and voter intimidation. Egypt under Mubarak is accustomed to elections that are largely a fait accompli, but the sham nature of these polls seemed particularly conspicuous and prompted protests at home and condemnation abroad, including from the White House. A U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks in December also revealed that Mubarak's desired transfer of power to his son Gamal may not be as easy as hoped, with Cairo's top brass potentially objecting to the succession.

Ishaan Tharoor