Egypt begins second stage of parliamentary elections

Egypt begins second stage of parliamentary elections, predicted to have low turnout similar to first stage of elections

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A woman casts her vote at a polling station during the second round of parliamentary elections at Shubra Al Khaymah in Qalyubiyah governorate near Cairo, Egypt, November 22, 2015.

Egypt began its second stage of parliamentary elections on Sunday to bring about the country’s first legislature following the dissolvement of a chamber in 2012 composed of a Muslim Brotherhood majority.

Authorities deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and officers to safeguard the two-day vote, with security concerns heightened following the downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

The destruction of the plane was claimed by DAESH and led to both Russia and UK to suspendomg their flights to and from Egypt, creating a major blow to Egypt's tourism industry, which was already damaged from years of unrest.

Egyptians voted last month in 14 provinces where the first round run-off of Egypt’s parliamentary elections showed a low turnout of 21.7 percent, as stated by the country’s High Elections Committee (HEC), which clearly reflects the apathy of the Egyptians towards voting in the absence of any sort of strong opposition, as the Muslim Brotherhood movement has been banned.

Turnout in the second round of voting for the 596-member parliament is also not expected to be much higher given the widespread lack of interest in the political process under the presidency Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a former army officer who led a military coup and ousted Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi, in 2013.

The current ongoing elections have not inspired any of the enthusiasm that was seen during the first post-Mubarak polls in 2011 - which saw a turnout of 62 percent - since the leftist and secular movements which led the 2011 uprising are boycotting the polls due to poor representation.

"You can't think straight when you are hungry. That is why they [voters] are not coming out," Ismail Hamed, a 38-year-old father of six, stated.

"If you didn't eat in a day, would you care about elections?" he continued.

The parliamentary elections are expected to strongly endorse President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, who has eliminated most of his opposition since the deposition of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, issuing a crackdown targeting the Muslim Brotherhood movement, leading to at least 1,400 people being killed and tens of thousands imprisoned.

TRTWorld and agencies