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

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

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

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs