The likelihood then, Egyptian commentators and politicians say, is that the new government will be formed without any Islamists at all, meaning that hopes of national reconciliation have been dashed, at least for some time to come.
Talk of the country becoming another Algeria (where violence erupted in 1991 after elections Islamists were poised to win were canceled), or even Syria, now in the grip of a fully fledged war, is overstated. However, between calm and escalation, most Egyptians would probably bet on escalation.
“If violence continues, the army may see no alternative but to impose emergency or martial law,” said Mona Makram Ebeid, a Wafd party MP.
Timing may be on the side of short-term calm as the month-long Muslim Ramadan holiday begins this week. However, heat, fasting and anger can be a volatile as well as an exhausting combination.
Ian Black is the Guardian’s Middle East editor.