2014 looks set to be a year for landmark elections. India's having a really long one, Ukraine's looking at a fairly awkward one and Syria's going to have a predictable one. But come next month, all eyes will be on Egypt, as the country seeks closure to the Arab Spring in the form of its very own presidential elections.
As it stands, there are really only two candidates left in this race: Hamdeen Sabahi, a leftist who was, back in the day, a continual irritation to the now-dethroned Mubarak; and General Abdel-Fatteh Al-Sisi, a military strongman with a penchant for crackdowns. But is this democracy? Is this the end result that those who died on the streets of Cairo had hoped for?
Because you see, it's beginning to look a lot like the past three years of Egyptian struggle have all been for nothing. General Sisi is already running the county. Granted, he stepped in to deal with the public backlash that followed the Muslim Brotherhood's policies, and many will defend his move. But with his position, he now commands an influence: evidenced in the bias that most state, and private, Egyptian media outlets are giving him. Life must be good if you're a supporter of Sisi.
But what if you're not? Well, the previously mentioned, opposition on the left doesn't get so much coverage. Which unfortunately doesn't bode well for his supporters either. Because if opponents of Sisi, such as the Muslim Brotherhood are rounded up and branded as terrorists, then this makes anyone else who won't toe the line fair game too.
This has been highlighted by recent demonstrations in Cairo, where people are still dying and facing mistreatment. And this brings us back around to democracy. Sure, we get pretty fed up with the Met's trigger-happy use of kettles, but at least they aren't gunning us down for suggesting that Gordon Brown make a glorious return. At least we're allowed to protest. So I don't know about you, but the Egyptian security services - currently under Sisi's control - are sure acting in a similar way to Mubarak's loyalists were, way back in 2011.
Now of course the elections may well be free from any meddling on the day - which is something Holland is trying to make sure of, by sending impartial observers to oversee proceedings. So we might see a high, confident turnout. But it remains to be seen, thanks to the media bias, as to whether the Egyptian people fully understand their candidates.
Another large reason, and quite possibly a legitimate one at that, for Sisi to do so well, is that he currently offers the country the best chance at social stability. And this, many believe will finally restart the political, economic and international machine that did so well under Mubarak. His rule had provided western nations with a stern and trusted figure to rely on; until that ship sank amidst the growing swell of anti-western sentiment, not helped by the disastrous and pretty questionable Anglo-American wars of recent times. But hey, Sisi's got Russia's vote, and the Gulf States' too - both places where human rights do so well. In fact, Saudi Arabia has actually offered the Egyptian military a finance package to make up for any losses incurred by the Obama administration's decision to withhold military aid, after Morsi was removed from office. The thing is, this new investment may well take Egypt in a new political direction.
And this direction is a path that David Cameron wants to be part of. For the UK, a chance to regain friends and drum up political clout within the Middle East is not something to be overlooked. Which is why, when an Egyptian judge has just sentenced 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death, and looks poised to hand down a similar sentence to 700 more this week, Cameron's ambassador to Saudi Arabia is heading up an investigation into the Brotherhood. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the 529 condemned, who are looking at a gravely uncertain future, with little help from the UK government.
So the coronation of Sisi spells disaster for the Arab Spring because, put simply, things are slipping back to square one. Fear and propaganda are running the streets of Egypt again, with the hopes of free speech and right to demonstrate fading with each passing Friday, as they're beaten up and thrown in a cell. Egyptian prisons are now overflowing with people who have stood up against the military's rule. And with journalists, such as Al Jazeera's Peter Greste, being incarcerated too, free speech is becoming yet another serious concern for human rights groups.
I guess it was never going to be easy, for a country as large and diverse as Egypt to come to a unanimous decision over who should their government ought be, but the way things are going, it looks like a lot of peoples' decisions are going to be made for them. Unfairly influenced and dangerously won.