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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid