News / Middle East

Egyptian Villagers Debate Candidates' Economic Plans

Elizabeth Arrott
MAZOURA, Egypt - Egypt's economic stagnation was a key factor in the revolt against the old government. In one village, voters worried about their future are divided over which of the two presidential candidates could help them move forward.  

Life in rural Egypt under the previous government was hard. Poverty was endemic - a third of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day. Prospects for change were almost nil. So the promise of new leadership has many in the countryside upbeat.

In Mazoura, a village in Beni Suef, south of Cairo, farmer Abu Samra Zaki Mahmoud is pinning his hopes on presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq - an old guard technocrat credited with bringing Egypt's aviation up to modern standards.

Farmer Abu Samra Zaki Mahmoud tries to drum up support for Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, Mazoura, Egypt, June 7, 2012. (E. Arrott/VOA)Farmer Abu Samra Zaki Mahmoud tries to drum up support for Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, Mazoura, Egypt, June 7, 2012. (E. Arrott/VOA)
x
Farmer Abu Samra Zaki Mahmoud tries to drum up support for Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, Mazoura, Egypt, June 7, 2012. (E. Arrott/VOA)
Farmer Abu Samra Zaki Mahmoud tries to drum up support for Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, Mazoura, Egypt, June 7, 2012. (E. Arrott/VOA)
Samra says Shafiq is a man of experience in politics and economics.  “He knows how to put the country in shape," he said. 

Samra is canvassing Mazoura on Shafiq's behalf. With some voters, it's an easy sell.

A voter calls Shafiq a role model - someone who would benefit villagers like himself and bring reform.

Like many Egyptians, the people of Mazoura feel the burden of rising prices and unemployment, declining subsidies and a bureaucracy that quashes initiative.

But those same conditions helped propel Shafiq's rival, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, to first place in an earlier round of voting.

The Islamist group's long history of grassroots charity has given it an edge, as evidenced as Abu Samra makes his way through a particularly pro-Morsi lane.

Despite the differences that spawn such loyalties, some say Morsi and Shafiq are surprisingly close on economic matters.

"Both candidates subscribe to a private-led economy, to some government intervention in the form of rules and regulations to streamline the process," said Magda Kandil, the director of the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies. "There are more of targeted social measures to provide a pro-active support to the small and medium enterprises.”

The similarities won't stop some voters from arguing over the candidates' relative merits.

Kandil says voters should be concerned that neither candidate has shown specifically how he plans to achieve ambitious goals.

"They are not very concrete in terms of the instruments and accordingly I am very concerned about their ability to connect with reality,” said Kandil.

It’s an observation that, if born out, likely means neither candidate will be able to ease economic woes any time soon.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jennifer from: Egypt
June 14, 2012 5:20 AM
The Muslim Brotherhoods only aim is to squash Israel. They spawned Hamas and now they want to control Egypt in order to further their goals there. Muslim Brotherhood has lied repeatedly and blatantly, and they DON'T have Egypt's best interests at heart.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
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 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 US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of 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.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs