Egyptian Elections in Retrospect: The Negative Aspects

Published January 10th, 2012 - 07:03 GMT
Although still a fledgling concept in Egypt, the execution of the elections still has a lot to build up to.
Although still a fledgling concept in Egypt, the execution of the elections still has a lot to build up to.

Phase I 

Many negative aspects marred the voting process in the first phase of the parliamentary elections. Casting ballots began later then scheduled in a number of polling centers. This was due to the late arrival of judges or the late delivery of ballots. 

Perhaps the most prominent negative aspect of this phase was the widespread electoral propaganda and campaigning during the period of electoral silence in violation of the law. 

This violation intensified during the two days of voting in both rounds of the first phase. Parties' representatives either called for choosing their candidates, or by what was known as "the laptop phenomenon" where a number of representatives sit at tables in the vicinity of polling centres. Their apparent aim was to help people to locate their polling centres. But in reality this was done on propaganda cards. 

There were also reports of using religion as political slogans to support candidates of some political parties and trends.

The weakness of those who were in charge of facing such violations was evident. This caused negative impact on voters and gave an advantage to those parties' candidates in violation of the law.

Political parties exchanged accusations of violating the law, committing electoral crimes and exceeding the maximum expenditure on campaigning. In addition to dedicating media outlets owned by some candidates to influence voters in violation of media neutrality.

Negative aspects during the first phase were extended to counting votes as well. There was chaotic atmosphere due to poor planning of elections management. There were clashes between candidates' supporters and candidates' agents inside or in front of sorting centres. In some cases those who were in charge were attacked. Some judges left sorting centres as a result of such incidents. 

Staff demands also marred the electoral scene. A number of public servants organized sit-ins refusing to begin counting votes and protesting the low assessed bounces for their electoral commissions.

The announcement of the final outcome was disappointing as the High Juridical Elections Commission (HJEC) failed to announce most of the results. This included the results of individual candidates in Cairo's fifth constituency, based at police station of El-Salam city. The announcement of the official results of parties' lists was delayed in the first phase.

In Cairo, a decision was taken to annul elections results of Sahil constituency after excluding the 90 ballot boxes. 

Phase II

The second phase saw lower turnout compared to the first phase. In some governorates polling centres were opened later than scheduled. This was on a more limited scale than the first phase.

Parties and candidates' electoral propaganda and campaigning continued during the period of electoral silence.

There were also some complaints concerning observers being denied to perform their missions. This practice was conducted on a wider scale than the two rounds of the first phase. Judges were accused of instructing voters in the polling centres.

Perhaps the most prominent incidents of this phase was the closure of some polling centres ahead of schedule or while voters, who did not cast their ballots, were still inside polling centres in violation of the instructions of the HJEC.

In the first day altercations took place in some polling centres of El-Saff and Ayat, in the Governorate of Giza. Such incidents lead to shootings, and subsequently to the closure of polling centers for some time.

Vote-buying has been reported on a limited scale.

In the governorates of Sharkiya and Menoufiya counting votes was suspended for some time. The process was delayed in a number of counties of Bihiera and Giza, without giving reasons.

In the Governrate of Menoufiya judges suspended counting votes due to rumors about brawls with the armed forces responsible for security. 

In the Governorate of Sharkiya counting votes was suspended after some ballot boxes were damaged and were not sealed with red wax as stated by candidates and representatives.

It was decided to hold re-elections in the second and fifth constituencies of the Governorate of Sharkiya. 

In the Governorate of Aswan re-elections of parties' lists was decided. 

Phase III 

The third phase saw fewer turnouts compared to the first two phases. Some polling centres were opened later than scheduled while the indelible ink was missing in other centres.

As monitored, electoral bribes were handed to voters in front of some polling centres, particularly in the Governorate of Gharbiya. Also electoral propaganda continued in front of voting centres. 

Some polling centres were closed before time during voting process as in the second phase.

Perhaps the most negative aspect of that phase was the outbreak of violence in front of some polling centres. Such incidents made the armed forces fire gunshots into the air in order to deter people in front of a polling centre of Sounbat Secondary School, in Zefta, the Governorate of Gharbiya. 

Sorting centres also saw violence after announcing some non-official. Such incidents took place in the governorates of Qena and South Sinai in particular.

Result of election in the Governorate of South Sinai has not been announced until now due to some problems related to votes sorting and counting, which led to protests and violence.

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