Egypt’s Parliamentary Elections See Low Turnout Among Eligible Voters

By Halimah Elmariah
Staff Writer

In mid-October, Egypt held parliamentary elections to fill the 596 open seats in Egypt’s House of Representatives, which has been empty since the dissolution of the Egyptian Parliament in June 2012.

Of the 596 lawmakers being elected, 448 will be voted in as independents, 120 on party lists, and 28 will be appointed by the president.

The elections are designed to occur in two phases: one already took place in mid-October and another is scheduled for late November.

According to Al Jazeera English, an overwhelming majority of the candidates running for a position in Parliament support President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who crushed all political opposition, including most notably the Muslim Brotherhood, which he dubbed a terrorist organization.

The Guardian reports that the main political coalition seeking positions in the Parliament is the pro-Sisi “For the Love of Egypt,” which includes leading businessmen and former members of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party.

This illustrates an unpluralistic governing body similar to that of ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi, whose Parliament was predominately Islamist.

Reuters correspondents visited voting polls in its early stages and reported a low turnout of roughly 10 percent, a sharp decline from the previous parliamentary elections held in 2012 under President Morsi.

A final count by the International Business Times indicated that turnout for the final first round was only 26.6 percent of the 27 million eligible voters.

Egyptians living abroad were also able to vote at their local Egyptian Embassy. According to the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, only 4.5 percent of Egyptians living abroad participated.

The exceedingly low turnout demonstrates an increasingly disengaged and less energized Egyptian population that once actively and willingly participated in government affairs since the first revolution in January 2011 that overthrew tyrant Hosni Mubarak.

Even a fine of 500 Egyptian pounds, roughly $60, imposed by the High Elections Committee on those who would fail to vote did not galvanize Egyptians to head to voting stations, according to the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

The Guardian writes that the low turnout also suggests that perhaps President Sisi, who promised a robust economy and stability, is losing his popularity among Egyptians, as their increasing demands are not met and their ability to voice any sign of indignation or dissent is firmly restricted.

Hazem Hosny, a Cairo University political science professor told the Guardian, “This Parliament will be a Parliament of the president. It’s really a Parliament to keep things as they are, to give an image of democracy.”

Halimah Elmariah

Contact Halimah at halimah.elmariah@student.shu.edu.

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