The people of Egypt have delivered the only verdict they could possibly do in the circumstances: treat the entire election process with utter contempt. Officially the voter turnout was put at 37 percent but observers on the scene said it was no more than 10 to 15 percent with many polling stations registering not even a single voter for many hours. Does the photo show overcrowding at a polling station?
Wednesday May 28, 2014, 09:07 DST
What do you do when people treat the election process with utter contempt? Extend the time line and make pathetic excuses as has just happened in Egypt where the tightly controlled election for president registered official voter turnout at merely 37 percent.
This was the figure cited by Egypt’s election commission on May 27 when it announced extension of voting by one more day. The actual figure is much lower as evident from eyewitness accounts at deserted polling stations in Cairo and elsewhere.
Abdel Aziz Salman, chief of the electoral commission claimed the turnout was about 37 percent of the 53 million eligible voters. He said voting period was being extended by one more day because of “overcrowding” at polling stations! Did the man ever step outside his air-conditioned office or palatial home?
There are only two candidates in the race: the shoe-in General (sorry Field Marshal) Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Hamdeed Sabahi. The election was organized to give el-Sisi a veneer of legitimacy when in reality the country has been in the grip of generals for decades.
The vote extension to a third day (Wednesday) was condemned by Hamdeen Sabahi saying it raised “questions... about the integrity of the process” and seemed aimed at “interfering in numbers and participation rates.”
Even the usually pliant media that never tires drumbeating about the non-existent virtues of el-Sisi and the military could not bring itself to say that the voter turnout was large.
For instance, Al Shorouk declared: “The ballot boxes are looking for voters” on its front page and Al Masry al Youm wrote: “The state is looking for a vote.” If Al Masry al Youm were a little more honest, it would have said, “The military is looking for a vote.”
The low turnout—some observers put it at between 10 to 15 percent—followed calls by supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood movement for a boycott of the vote and said they would not recognize the election outcome.
The April 6 movement led by Egyptian youth also called for a boycott calling it a “military election.” The group was used by the military last year to organize protests against Mursi’s government. The military then presented this as “proof” that Mursi had lost popular support thereby carrying out the coup.
Yet after months of absolutely free campaigning, publicity and a media blitz in which el-Sisi was constantly projected on television as Egypt’s “savior”, the people have delivered a tight slap on his face.
If el-Sisi had any dignity or self-respect, he would leave the field to the only elected president in Egypt’s entire history and apologize to the Egyptian people. That, however, would be expecting too much from the thugs in uniform.
For now, however, the Egyptian people have delivered the only verdict they were allowed to do so: treat the entire electoral process with contempt. It deserved no better.