'Morsi Meter' Takes the Measure of Egypt's New President

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By Joshua Falk

The clock is ticking for Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi.

"17 days out of 100. Over all promises achieved: 0 out of 64," reads the banner on the English version of Morsi Meter, a website launched by Zabatak, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that seeks to make Egypt "free, corruption- free and safe." The site tracks the president's progress during the first 100 days of his term on promises he's made. The site resembles Obameter, a tool run by PolitiFact.com that follows President Barack Obama's progress on campaign promises.

Morsi Meter, available in Arabic and English, contains five categories: security, traffic, bread, cleanliness and fuel. Some of the 64 commitments monitored include tying police compensation to performance, installing modern traffic control systems, providing performance incentives for bread bakery inspectors, establishing penalties for improper disposal of waste and establishing penalties for fuel smugglers.

The reach of Egypt's online civil society shouldn't be overstated. Millions of Egyptians participated in the Arab Spring protests. By contrast, the Facebook page credited with helping to spur those protests in Egypt -- "We are all Khaled Said," named for the 28-year-old Alexandrian martyr who became a poster child of the revolution -- hit a peak of roughly 350,000 members in January 2011, and today it has around 230,000. Only one in four Egyptians was online in 2010, according to the World Bank, although the percentage is certainly higher in Cairo, where the protests were centered.

Yet robust new social media operations are expanding influence and shaping public debate, for both the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafi Nour Party that won nearly a quarter of the parliamentary seats in last winter's election. Internet penetration had climbed to nearly 40 percent by March 2012, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Now, for those Egyptians online, Morsi Meter will provide an easy way to see what their new leader ultimately delivers.

(Joshua Falk is an intern with Bloomberg View.)

-0- Jul/17/2012 14:40 GMT