News / Middle East

Egypt Constitutional Referendum – What the Results Mean

An Egyptian voter casts her vote in a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, March 19, 2011
An Egyptian voter casts her vote in a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, March 19, 2011

Egyptians, voting in a nationwide referendum Saturday, overwhelmingly approved changes to their constitution. The measure was considered to be the first major step on their path toward democracy after a popular revolt earlier this year toppled the regime of long-time President Hosni Mubarak.

More than 14.1 million voters, or 77.2 percent of those who took part in the poll, approved the constitutional amendments, while 4 million, or 22.8 percent, voted against them. The government said Sunday the 41 percent turnout among the 45 million eligible voters broke all records for recent elections. Davin Hutchins spoke to VOA’s Cairo Bureau Chief Elizabeth Arrott about the meaning of the vote.

Arrott: Egyptians were voting on a package of amendments to their constitution, a simple “yes or no vote” on a measure that would open up new elections to more people and more parties than in the past. There are also provisions on limits on the terms that a president can serve – two four-year terms – something that was part of the protests that led to all this. People were tired of having a president who had been in office for nearly thirty years, and those 14 million [who voted in favor] represent about 77 percent of the voters [who took part in the poll]. So it was quite an overwhelming victory in favor of the amendments.

Hutchins: Do you think that the Muslim Brotherhood and remnants of the NDP (National Democratic Party) played a big role in getting out the vote, in getting people to show up at the polls?

Arrott: Yes, both of these groups used their considerable experience in organizing their followers in the lead-up to the referendum. The NDP, because it was the main force in politics over the last 30 years, and the Brotherhood, although it is banned, it was very good, as many outlawed groups are, in figuring out alternative ways of keeping their base together. And both of them are in favor of the amendments, which they have been arguing would help Egypt get going to move to a new government.

Hutchins: Did you get a sense that the pro-democracy youth groups that we have been interviewing on VOA, stayed away from the polls because they wanted an entirely re-written constitution. Do you think their attitude toward the referendum changed the end results at all?

Arrott: They certainly did not get the numbers they expected. Actually, it seemed that they were out in as much force as they could muster. Most of them, as you know, had wanted a whole new constitution, arguing that there is no point in patching up a flawed one. But they were outvoted despite their online campaign and street effort to get people to vote “no.”

It’s interesting that most of the “no” votes came from Cairo and Alexandria, the big urban centers. There was very little from the conservative countryside, where people may place more faith in the military, the Brotherhood and the remnants of the NDP as still being someone who could lead the passage of chance.

Hutchins: And, finally, looking to the future – how will this weekend’s results shape the parliamentary and the presidential elections to be held later in the year?

Arrott: It does pave the way to keep to the schedule that the military, which has been in charge since President Mubarak stepped down last month, has come up with. And that has the parliamentary election, followed by the presidential election, [to be held] in about the next six months. And that is what perhaps those who were in favor of a “no” vote were most concerned about – more than about the constitution, that the process was too rushed. And they felt that this timetable would give an advantage to the established groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood and the NDP, to get organized, and certainly those fears seem to have been borne out to some extent by the results we saw on Sunday.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs