Egypt's elections: Smooth first day, 'too early to judge turnout'

The cabinet gives state workers a half-day off Monday to vote; no major incidents mar polling; women out-vote men

Egypt's elections: Smooth first day, 'too early to judge turnout'

World Bulletin / News Desk

Polling stations have closed their doors at 9pm Sunday on the first day of Egypt’s long-awaited 2015 parliamentary elections after a slow but smooth start to polling according to a report in Al Ahram.f 

Abdullah Fathi, head of the Judges' Club - an unofficial but powerful body that represents the majority of Egypt's judges - told Al Hayat TV that the club's reports of polling station monitoring labelled the vote turnout "clearly and unjustifiably weak."

Fathi said there were "no violations, breaches or quarrels," before adding jokingly "nor even voters." He said the turnout was low compared to previous polls but did not supply figures.

Yosry El-Azabawy, a researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Ahram Online that although today's turnout might be disappointing, it is too early to judge the wider turnout of these elections.

"We must not generalise, not before the run-offs and the second stage of elections. A larger segment of Egyptians will vote in the second stage."

Judge Omar Marawan, official spokesperson of the High Elections Committee (HEC), criticised media reports on the turnout on Sunday, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

“Those percentages are false and some media outlets reported our samples as the [actual] turnout,” said Marawan in a press conference at the HEC headquarters.

Omar Maarwan of the HEC said at a press conference early on Sunday afternoon that the number of women voters so far has been “four times greater” than that of men.

Marawan, who is in charge of the polling process, added that the 60-plus age group was the most represented group while 18 to 21-year-olds were the least .

Wafaa Hassan Refaat, a 69-year-old retiree in the Sheikh Zayed district in the outskirts of Cairo, told Ahram Online that she came to vote because it is a "national duty." She is upset at the lack of young people at the polling stations, describing them as “lazy”.

“Young people must wake up before they regret it,” Refaat said.

In Alexandria, where observers have said turnout was also low, the electoral scene is dominated by the many independent candidates running there, in addition to a noticeable Salafist presence in the form of the Nour Party, with no major left-wing or revolutionary presence.

The country’s left-wing political forces appear skeptical about this final stage in the post-Morsi political roadmap and remain divided by a range of issues.

Minimal security issues

The first day of elections day had a smooth start amid tight security.

In the only reported act of violence unidentified assailants opened fire from a four-wheel drive vehicle, shooting at security forces deployed at a polling station in Al-Ayat, Giza.

The forces responded by firing back at the vehicle, which then flipped over. The gunmen escaped and no injuries were reported, according to Al-Ahram.

The interior ministry announced on Friday that some 120,000 policemen and central security forces will safeguard Egypt's 18,945 polling stations. They will supplement the 185,000 army personnel deployed around polling stations during the voting on Sunday and Monday.

The army announced on Saturday that 76,000 military personnel from the army's central command area in Cairo will help provide security for voters, judges and monitors in the Upper Egypt governorates.

The country has been without a parliament since the previous house, elected in late 2011, was dissolved in June 2012 after a court ruled key electoral laws to be unconstitutional. President El-Sisi currently holds legislative powers. 

 

Last Mod: 19 Ekim 2015, 09:24
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