Low turnout expected in Egypt delayed elections

Low turnout expected in Egypt delayed elections
Low turnout is likely to be a key feature of Egypt long-delayed parliamentary elections, now set to take place in two rounds starting on October 18.
3 min read
14 October, 2015
The Muslim Brotherhood has called for a total boycott of the elections [Getty]
Egypt has been without a parliament since June 2012 when a court dissolved the main chamber, reversing the hopes of many people who took part in the revolution that ended former president Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

In the last elections in January 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood won 47 percent of the seats.

But the Brotherhood, which was the main opposition party, is now banned and its leaders are in jail alongside young activists who were the forefront of the 2011 uprising.

Weak election-monitoring means that the chamber is likely to be packed with rich and politically well-connected supporters of general-turned-president Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi.

     Young people not taking part is evidence that there something is wrong and that they have deep-seated issues with politics
- Rifaat Sayyid Ahmad
The other main Islamist party, al-Nour, which won 24 percent of the seats in the last elections, have allied with Sisi and liberal parties have split and bickered and many of their leaders have gone into exile or been hounded out of politics.

Disillusioned young people

With the clear lack of serious opposition to Sisi's military government many young Egyptians have lost their passion to bring about change that pushed them to topple the Mubarak regime.

"The reluctance of young people to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections is a disaster because they make up 60 percent of the population", the head of the Yafa Research Centre Rifaat Sayyid Ahmad told al-Araby's Arabic service.

"Young people not taking part is evidence that there something is wrong and that they have deep-seated issues with politics," Ahmad added.

"The turnout in the elections will be low in general but especially among young people," said Yusri al-Azbawi, a researcher at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

"A large amount of people between the ages of 25 and 40 will not go to the polls because the political atmosphere is not conducive of that," said Azbawi.


Many smaller liberal and socialist parties have been riven by infighting and have boycotted the vote or been thwarted by costly bureaucratic procedures, leaving just a few scattered critics in the running.

      Egypt has been without a parliament since June 2012 [Getty]
Leading member of the April 6 Youth Movement, Amr Ali, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that boycotting the elections was a positive move because the elections are being held to "give legitimacy to a military government that holds no weight democratically".

The centre-left Dostour party said in February it would boycott the elections in protest at what it called the government's human rights violations.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called for peaceful protests and a total boycott of the "sham" parliamentary elections.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a former vice-president of Egypt, has also appeared to have called for Egyptians to abstain from voting in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The regime installed by Sisi, who was elected president in a May 2014 election boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood, has waged a harsh crackdown on Islamists and liberal activists.

The new parliament will comprise 568 members - 448 elected on an individual basis and 120 through winner-takes-all lists.