News / Middle East

Egyptian Voters Embrace Cleaner Elections

Egyptian election workers count the ballots following the end of the two day presidential election at a school in Cairo, Egypt. Experts say the elections were fairly clean given Egypt's past corruption.Egyptian election workers count the ballots following the end of the two day presidential election at a school in Cairo, Egypt. Experts say the elections were fairly clean given Egypt's past corruption.
x
Egyptian election workers count the ballots following the end of the two day presidential election at a school in Cairo, Egypt. Experts say the elections were fairly clean given Egypt's past corruption.
Egyptian election workers count the ballots following the end of the two day presidential election at a school in Cairo, Egypt. Experts say the elections were fairly clean given Egypt's past corruption.
Despite some reports of irregularities, Egypt’s historic elections were remarkably clean.

Observers say that virtually all of the candidates violated the election rules by transporting voters to the polls, giving speeches during the official period of silence, handing out sugar and cooking oil, or leaving campaign posters up by voting booths. But there were no reports of systematic vote rigging, marking a major step forward in the nation’s path toward greater transparency and democracy.

“There was nothing that seemed intentionally fraudulent about the process by the administrators,” said Samer Shehata, an assistant professor of Arab Politics at Georgetown University in Washington who traveled to Egypt to observe the process.  “We did see some technical violations by candidates. Small things. Nothing that affected the outcome.”

Still, like in most elections worldwide, candidates are appealing some results. The High Election Commission will begin considering the complaints on Saturday.

Shehata described the difference between this election and the 2005 vote that took place when former President Hosni Mubarak ran for a fifth term, as “night and day.”

“The idea that 85 million people did not know and still do not know to this day who their president is going to be, that is revolutionary,” he said.

The popular uprising that lead to Egypt’s first truly democratic elections began, in part, as a rejection of the endemic corruption that had enriched the powerful and marginalized the poor for decades. Nepotism ran rampant in the Mubarak government - high-level graft that trickled down to the lowest levels of society, where Egyptians were expected to provide “al-halaway” or “the reward” for a job or basic public service.

Bribes are still an everyday occurrence in Egypt, but Mubarak has been detained, awaiting a verdict on charges of corruption and abuse of power. The revolution appears to have fired up the nation’s resolve to root out systemic corruption, as seen in the public’s vigilance on voting day, according to Mostafa Hegazi of the Egyptian monitoring group Shayfeencom.

He said Shayfeencom sifted through 750 voting incidents sent in by citizens via text message, phone calls and social media on Wednesday and Thursday, 150 of which were verified by a legal team and sent to authorities to investigate.

“This high participation could only mean that people are eager and willing to have a better future by ensuring that democracy will not be hindered and that the elections would be fair and transparent,” he wrote in an email.

Shayfeencom, which means “we see you” in Arabic, began using the Internet to shed light on voting fraud in 2005, posting videos to YouTube that showed violations by Mubarak’s supporters. That effort has expanded in this election.

“We were able through Facebook and Twitter to make thousands of people interact with us directly and call us during the elections day,” Hegazi wrote.

The online participation echoed a greater level of activity at the polls. Voter turnout hit about 50 percent this year, up from the less than 30 percent that showed up for the 2005 presidential election.

Shehata said Egyptians took this election seriously, a new phenomenon for the country, which he said will shape its future.

“With regard to elections and the election administration, I don’t think we can go backwards. I think that things are going to get better and that we’re going to continue to have elections that have some integrity in Egypt,” he said, noting that the presidential election had less irregularities and greater efficiency than the parliamentary elections, which took place beginning in November.

Whether Egypt’s attempt at clean, democratic elections will translate to a more transparent, equitable system of governance is another question, Shehata said. A question whose answer depends on who wins the vote, how the new constitution is written, and how much the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces answers to civilian rule.

“By July 1 or June 24, when a new president is appointed, that will be one move forward with regard to Egypt,” he said. “Will it be the land of milk and honey and full democracy? No, and it’s not going to be for some time to come, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid