Three reasons Egyptians might be skirting the parliamentary polls

Published October 20th, 2015 - 03:30 GMT
Sparse polling stations were the norm during the first two days of Egypt's parliamentary elections. (AFP/File)
Sparse polling stations were the norm during the first two days of Egypt's parliamentary elections. (AFP/File)

The first phase of Egypt’s parliamentary elections ended Tuesday with another dismal turnout at polls. Despite this being the first election since 2012, the lack of interest on the ground is making something pretty clear—most Egyptians aren’t convinced of the “democratic milestone” President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi keeps touting.

Elderly Egyptians made up most of the paltry ten percent electorate who cast their vote, according to Reuters. Young people instead headed to Twitter to mock the election with an impressive array of hashtags—but below the online snark is a serious case of disillusionment with national politics.

Here are three reasons Egypt’s youth might have steered clear of the polls:

1. Forced disappearances and imprisonment of political dissidents have been rampant under Sisi. In September, Local activist group Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms claimed some 1,250 people had forcibly disappeared since the beginning of 2015.  Meanwhile, the country’s seen some 64 cases of illegal detention and 31 cases where the authorities have failed to investigate related complaints.

2. Sisi was hailed as the secular answer during the 2013 ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. But with some 40,000 political prisoners believed to be detained and over 500 death sentences in 2014, now he’s attracting a different comparison: At the polls this week, 26-year-old Ahmed Bahaa Karmy told Reuters, “Sisi is just like Mubarak.”

3. No new faces. Those hoping to fill the political vacuum in this election all seem to link back to Sisi himself. The only viable competition for Sisi’s supporters is an alliance of socialist opposition parties. But that cluster eventually pulled out of the election, leaving only his supporters on the ballot.

By Elizabeth Tarbell



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