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March 26, 2007

Comments

Amy H

Actually, voter turnout in Cairo is typically extremely low, even by Egyptian standards. Thirty percent turnout for this referendum (of registered voters; most eligible voters aren't registered) would be unbelievably high (literally)!! Govt officials claimed that turnout averaged 23% for the 2005 parliamentary elections...and that was with rich and powerful candidates' patronage/vote-buying/voter mobilization efforts really kicking in and surely inflated numbers. Bottom line: huge legitimacy questions about this process.

aardvark

Mabye Abd al-Ghani was engaging in some spin, ya'ni - I'm sure just like in primaries here everybody wants to set their own bar...

Josh Stacher

I was out and about this morning and afternoon......

Turnout was very low. I think in Cairo we are talking 3-4%. I saw ballot boxes at 12pm that had 7 votes in them (the high might have been 20). The ballot itself was extremely confusing as all 34 amendments were listed - it was 4 pages (both sides) of text with the green 'muwafiq' or black 'gher muwafiq' on the first page.

There were two types of polling stations today. The ones in NDP-strong constituencies (like Sayida Zainab & Fathi Sorour) where the party activists were busy moving people about and doing their spin about terrorism and increasing freedom. In these places, security/police were very relaxed and letting the party play.

Then there were other polling stations such as in Bab al-Sharaaya (Ayman Nour's old consitutency), which despite being in the government's hands since Nov 05, the party is clearly not comfortable. In these stations, security/police were in charge and the NDP seemed absent (no activists or organizers). Those Ligaan were some of the worst managed polling stations I have ever seen in any Egyptian electoral process - in terms of protocol, who was in charge, spin, following the rules, and basic communication.

Also, last night's repression had an effect on Kifaya. They are lucky if there were 40 activists on the steps of the journalist syndicate (hemmed in by CSF). Al-Maseeri (the new head of Kifaya) is a sweet older gentleman but after speaking with him for ten minutes - it is clear neither he nor the movement has a vision or way forward. That was fine two years ago but now it just gives the whole movement of being stale.

The Brothers basic argument today was that they were not protesting because if they did, the government would bring tanks on the street. Perhaps....but I suspect their calculation is that the regime is doing more harm to itself than if group comes out on the streets. Because If they did, it gives the government an excuse to distract attention away from how the whole amendment ordeal has been so blatently rigged. By doing nothing, the MB helps keep the pressure/focus on the state.

Perhaps, I am overanalyzing what was in many many respects a completely average day in Cairo during March. Not that I can prove this but well over 90% of Egyptians seemed to think the Amendment/Referendum process was a joke and it did not matter if they participated or not.

Abu Muqawama

I don't understand how such a poor neighborhood like Sayida Zainab is still so pro-government.

JS

Abu Muqawama,
I think for a very short answer, we could say, "Patronage"....Basically the NDP mobilizes well there because Sorour is the Umda of the neighborhood and he keeps enough people happy.

Just a guess - I am sure there is a much better and more detailed answer out there.

Katie

So...when do the "results" come out? It's nighttime there now. *very curious*

MG

The "results" are in, approved with 75.9% of the vote. You can just see the bashas congratulating each other: "Nice work, ya 'amm." "Yes, I though the .9% was a pretty nice touch myself."

Re: Sayyeda Zainab, there were some reports of women being rounded up by NDP people to go and vote, of course without being told what the amendments were about, and they were under the impression that they were "voting for Mubarak." Regime toadies had the nerve to be all self-congratulatory about the "high turnout" and particularly "women coming out to vote."

N/A

Please be aware that the above picture from "Al-Jazeera Talk" was not taken on the day of the referendum. It was previously published in a March 2003 issue of the now defunct "Cairo Times." It is from the protests that broke out on Midan Tahrir following the commencement of the Iraq war.

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