News / Africa

Voting Continues in Egypt's Landmark Elections

Egyptian women show their inked fingers after voting in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011
Egyptian women show their inked fingers after voting in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011
Elizabeth Arrott

Egyptians lined up for hours Monday to take part in the nation's first post-revolution parliamentary elections. While logistics for the staggered, three-month process are daunting, so far, voters seemed pleased to be able to make their voices heard.

Victor Beattie's Q&A with David Farris, director of the International Studies Program at Roosevelt University in Chicago:

The line stretched for blocks outside a polling station in Cairo, with some voters hopeful that this election, unlike those of decades past, will count.  

Student Farah, her uncovered hair standing out in a line mostly of veiled women, said she came to ensure a good future for all Egyptians.

"We want now to participate in everything in our country. I could participate last year, or the previous period, but I wasn't sure my voice will take the original steps in our process. Now I'm sure, insha'allah that my voice will be heard," said Farah.

Major Alliances for Egypt's Parliamentary Elections

Democratic Alliance for Egypt: Formed in June 2011, it was the first significant political coalition to emerge after President Hosni Mubarak's February resignation. The coalition is led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and includes at least five other political groups. The alliance started out as a broad-based coalition of liberal and Islamist parties but some of its original members left due to ideological differences.

Islamist Alliance (Alliance for Egypt): Led by the Salafist party al-Nour and includes at least two other groups. Its members were originally part of the Democratic Alliance but split because of a disagreement over the number of candidates they would be able to field in the elections. The Islamist Alliance formed in late September.

Egyptian Bloc: The liberal coalition has lost members since its formation in August and now includes only the Free Egyptians, Social Democratic and al-Tagammu parties. The bloc says it hopes to bring together political forces that are committed to a civil democratic state based on a principle of separation between religion and politics.

Completing the Revolution Alliance: Formed in October, the alliance includes youth, socialist, liberal and moderate Islamist parties. Most were formerly part of the Egyptian Bloc. Members include the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, the Egypt Freedom Party and the Socialist Popular Alliance Party

Despite a crackdown in past days on anti-military protests in the capital's Tahrir Square, the vote was proceeding peacefully across much of Cairo governorate, one of several regions of the country taking part in this first stage of elections.

The three month process is being hailed as a milestone for Egypt, a country dominated by a military-backed government for nearly 60 years. Political analyst Hassan Nafae said that as imperfect as the vote may be, it may answer a fundamental question.

"This is a very, very important election in just one sense: It will, for the first time, show us who represents what exactly, because we really don't know," said Nafae.

In Alexandria, where the two-day first round of voting also was underway, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party told VOA that in two districts where Islamist parties were popular, ballots didn't arrive until noon. He added the army was being cooperative, though, helping to establish security at polling places - a scene he described as "remarkable."

Islamists hope to do well in this voting, both the Freedom and Justice party, and the more fundamentalist [Salafist] Al Nour party.  

Marwa Mohammed, standing in line to cast her vote in Cairo, came to give her support to the Salafists.

Fully covered in a niqab, she said the party represents her: "It will fulfill my future demands, God willing."

Nearby, another voter hoped for a more mainstream government. Mariam, a dentist wearing the more common hijab, or headscarf, said her main hope is that this new wave of popular participation continues.

"I'm really not sure how it will go, but I'm aiming for a moderate Egypt. I'm aiming for a better future for our kids and I need to see a more proactive people in the community, and more of a literate community rather than what we had before," said Mariam.

Cairo-based analyst Nafae said that is likely to happen, even though he believes the parliament being elected now will be weakened because there will be no new constitution until next year, and the military vows to prolong its rule.

"I am not optimistic about the next parliament, but I am optimistic about the future because I do believe that the Egyptian people are much more aware than before and they will work very hard until they achieve all the objectives of the revolution," said Nafae.

The first round of voting ends Tuesday, with runoff elections set for two weeks from now. Other regions in the country will begin their voting next month.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs