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Boycott, Lack of Enthusiasm Mar Egypt's Elections

  • VOA News

Completed ballots are inside boxes inside a polling station, during the first round of the parliamentary election, in the Imbaba district of Giza, near Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015.

Completed ballots are inside boxes inside a polling station, during the first round of the parliamentary election, in the Imbaba district of Giza, near Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015.

Egyptian authorities granted government workers a half-day off Monday in an attempt to boost low turnout for the country's first parliamentary elections since a chamber dominated by Islamists was dissolved by a court ruling in 2012.

But voters appeared to be shunning the ballot box for a second day, highlighting growing disillusionment since the army seized power in 2013 and promised to restore democracy. The low voting levels were in sharp contrast to the long lines of the 2011-12 election.

The decision to give government workers a half-day off reflected deep concern over the turnout, which analysts said may not exceed 10 percent.

Final results are scheduled to be announced in December and the 596-seat chamber is expected to hold its inaugural session later in the month.

Private broadcaster CBC aired simultaneous live footage from 16 polling centers across the country that were mostly empty. The channel played advertisements between segments appealing to Egyptians to go out and vote.

Voter apathy

But younger Egyptians who comprise the majority of the population stayed away with many people dismissing it as a sham.

Coming days after President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi urged Egyptians to cast their ballots, the low turnout suggested the former general was losing his appeal.

In 2013, then-army chief Sissi overthrew Egypt's first freely-elected civilian president, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, and promised a "roadmap to democracy." Morsi has been in jail since Sissi toppled him.

President Sissi then launched a fierce crackdown on dissent, jailing thousands of Morsi supporters as well as activists at the forefront of the 2011 revolt that
ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

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