Lucy Emmerson

Turnout “Surprisingly” High: Day One of Egypt’s Elections A Promising Start

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Turnout appears to be extremely high as voting kicks off in Egypt today. Abdel Moez Ibrahim, the head of the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) declared he was “surprised” as it was “higher than expected”.

The election has begun with voting in 9 governorates, covering the areas of Cairo, Alexandria, Assiut, Port Said and Luxor, which combined contain around 17.5 million eligible voters.

People are queuing across these governorates, some waiting in line for up to 5 hours to cast their vote. Despite this, the mood is jubilant, and the long waiting time does not appear to have deterred any would-be voters.

Today’s vote will elect 168 members of the 498 member People’s Assembly (PA), 56 of them Individual Candidates (IC) chosen to represent two-member majoritarian districts. The remaining 112 are from party lists, elected using Proportional Representation (PR).

Despite some problems, analysts are tentatively declaring this first day a success. There have been very few reports of voter intimidation, with most complaints relating to parties campaigning outside polling stations, violating a ban on campaigning in the last 48 hours before elections.

While most accusations have been leveled at the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Salafi al-Nour, supporters have been quick to point out that they have not been the only ones committing election day infractions, with liberal and secular parties also guilty of flyer-ing.

A further complaint was inefficient organisation, twitter user @ghadasha from the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights tweeting: “Amazing participation, bad organization! The Egyptian people ready for Democracy…Authority obviously not.”

Some polling stations opened late due to ink or ballot papers not being delivered on time, and in some cases because judges were delayed by the horrendous amount of traffic on Cairo’s streets today.

However, voting is now well underway, and the SEC has announced that all polling stations which opened late will remain open beyond than their scheduled closing time of 7pm to compensate for the delay. By Egyptian standards, the chaos has been moderate, and today marks a good start to the electoral process due to unfold over the next three months.

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