News / Middle East

Violence, Voting Irregularities Mar Egyptian Elections

Banners blanketed parts of Cairo, although voter interest appeared as slight as in recent years,  22 Nov 2010 
Banners blanketed parts of Cairo, although voter interest appeared as slight as in recent years,  22 Nov 2010 

Multimedia

Elizabeth Arrott

Egyptians took part in parliamentary elections that many feel will bring little change to a country dominated by the National Democratic Party for the past three decades.   But accusations of voting irregularities and reports of violence have raised additional concerns, as the vote is widely considered a dry-run for next year's presidential election.   

Judging just by the noise level, the ruling National Democratic Party appears confident of a strong showing.

In interview after interview with voters trying to explain their support for the opposition, NDP supporters gathered around, their chanting drowning out the words of others.

But noise is just one factor.   A member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the banned Islamic organization, which can run candidates as independents, said that one of the group's candidates in Alexandria was attacked.

The Brotherhood member, known to VOA, but who preferred not to use his name, said the candidate was beaten by a group of men he described as "NDP" thugs. There has been no official word on his condition or whether his attackers have been caught. There was no immediate response from the NDP to the allegations.

Egypt Votes

  • Egypt's Population: 80+ million
  • Parliament has 508 elected members, 10 appointed by president
  • Two PMs represent each of the 254 constituencies
  • A candidate needs more than 50% of the votes to win a five-year term

Other scattered violence, some said to be by security toward opposition groups, has been reported across the country.

The opposition appears to be facing some disadvantages on a more purely technical level, for example, election monitoring.  The government promised all contestants and their representatives they could observe the voting process.  The government promised a free and fair election.

Reda Shaban is a representative of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood running as an independent candidate.  Speaking at  polling station in Helwan, just south of Cairo, Shaban said he found himself confronted by security guards, who said he needed additional approval from the local police.  He said the police turned down his request, while NDP representatives were given the proper paperwork.

Photos by VOA's Elizabeth Arrott

Likewise the media, which had been touted by the government as guarantors of a fair election - and an argument against international monitors, found their access limited. Despite proper accreditation, this reporter was barred from filming inside a polling station, and instructed to "monitor with your eyes."  

Voting at one station mid-day was light, with only nine ballots seen through the glass voting box.  Later, in another district, the count was less clear, as the glass had been covered with an opaque plastic coating.   A woman who quietly introduced herself as an independent monitor said she had seen 15 votes cast since the polls had opened, in a district where some 1,000 people are registered to vote.

Authorities say official voter turnout will be released Tuesday, one day after the winners are announced.

Tarek Zaghloul, director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, believes these are only the start of the problems.  Zaghloul said the most violated persons are the voters themselves.  The voter who goes to cast his vote confronts many violations, he says, including being told the officially guaranteed national identification card was, as of voting day, no longer proof enough to vote.  He said others simply couldn't find their names on the voting rolls at all.  

Hala Mustafa, editor of the magazine Democracy, says years of these procedures have taken their toll. "Most of the people lost interest in the elections as a tool for change, for political change.  And, also, I cannot eliminate the factor of the middle class in Egypt. And, I think this class, which gave a kind of political vitality to the society, has been deteriorating for the last two or three decades, and I think this affects negatively the political participation," he said.

She says it is easier to "recruit and mobilize" people in the rural areas.  But that, she says, is beside the point. "I think the only importance of the parliamentary elections this year is for the ruling party to have the overwhelming majority in order to prepare for the presidential elections the next year.  So, this is all I think the whole elections is all about," she said.

Few doubt that the National Democratic Party will hold on to its dominant position again this year.  But next year could possibly be another story.

No candidate has officially declared candidacy for president.  Current President Hosni Mubarak, in power for nearly 30 years, has not ruled out another run, but he is 82 and has suffered health problems this year.   

His son, Gamal Mubarak, a prominent figure in the NDP, is widely seen as being groomed as an eventual replacement.  Given that Gamal is not running for parliament, the number of banners around town these days promoting his political future have only helped that speculation grow.

NEW: Follow our Middle East stories on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page. Right now, we're focusing on events and issues related to the election in Egypt. We want to know what you think about them. Let your voice be heard.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid