High Turnout at Egypt’s Parliamentary Elections

Nancy Salem and Reem El Refai

A record number of voters flocked to polls for elections last month - PHOTO FROM WEB

After decades of political inactivity in Egypt, these past weeks brought out voters en masse, willing to stand in queues for, in some cases, the entire day. Nonetheless, Egypt voted.

On Nov. 28 from the very start of the day, crowds gathered to their appointed voting stations, anticipating their chance to vote. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) is currently leading the polls.

Mahitab Assran an undeclared sophomore noted that she was standing in line starting at 6:45 am.

“It took me two minutes; everyone was very friendly; it was great,” she describes.

Engy Helmy, an art major, agreed with her saying, “I braced myself for a long day at the polls but surprisingly, I was able to place my vote in only fifteen minutes.”

Tarek Abdel Raouf, a mechanical engineering sophomore, also had a positive experience and is hopeful of what these elections will bring.

“We’ve waited so long to vote; there were a lot of people there and the judges were helpful,” he explains.

He believes, however, that there should have been measures taken to stop the violations.

Some weren’t so lucky. Reports spread of several stations being ill-equipped without the very basics like ink and voter ballots.

Head of Egypt’s Supreme Electoral Commission Abdel Moez Ibrahim insists that the first round of voting is “experimental” and that although mistakes and violations occurred, they were minor.

Youssef Sallam, a political science freshman, believes the elections were transparent: “I don’t necessarily agree with the results, but I do believe they came about in a transparent manner. The Freedom and Justice Party did do a lot of work, I don’t agree with all their policies nor do I agree with the way the advertised or the way they politicized religion to get votes, but that’s democracy.”

Many parties including the FJP were accused of manipulating the ballot. Rahman Nasser, a mechanical engineering sophomore, adds that in the two hours it took him to vote, “there were other parties giving out cards and there’s a YouTube video of Kotla El Masreya (The Egyptian Bloc) doing the exact same thing.”

Regardless, the elections went off without any major incidents. Sallam continues saying, “For the very first time my vote counted, and I wanted to be part of the political change brought about by the revolution.”

With the first round of the parliamentary elections out of the way, AUCians like the rest of the country are anticipating the rise of political Islamism and are somewhat fearful of its overwhelming success. The second and the third rounds are just around the corner and soon enough, Egypt will have its very first free elected parliament. Opinions have varied regarding this issue; some think it’s going to be short lived with very little authority and others fear that the upcoming parliament would leave its permanent mark on the Egyptian constitution.

Dr. Namira Negm, assistant professor of international law, expressed her concern with the possible effectiveness of the parliament. She shed the light on the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces’ (SCAF) constitutional declaration, which does not provide the parliament with any real power.

“The Islamists have won the first round and I have no doubt that they shall sweep over the second and the third rounds, but I assure you that they will not live up to their promises,” she said.

However, she feels confident that the people in Tahrir will not tolerate the old regime’s ways.

Many events and campaigns led up to these elections - ALAIN EL HAJJ