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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

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