Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said on Monday that turnout during the previous day’s parliamentary election was just 15-16 percent but should rise now after public sector workers were given a half-day off to vote.
Voters, however, appeared to be shunning the ballot box for a second day on Monday in what one newspaper called “an election without voters,” highlighting growing disillusionment since the army seized power in 2013 and promised to restore democracy. Sunday and Monday’s voting levels were extremely low, in sharp contrast to the long lines of the 2011-12 election.
Younger Egyptians who comprise the majority of the population, stayed away with many people dismissing it as a sham.
This time, even Egypt’s largely loyalist press focused on the lack of interest in the polls.
“An election without voters,” said a front-page headline in the business daily Al-Mal. “Elections without queues,” read a headline in Al Shorouk. Even the pro-government Al Ahram zeroed in on the absence of young people at the ballot box.
“We don’t know anything about these candidates so I’m not going to give my vote to someone who doesn’t deserve it,” Michael Bassili, 19, from Alexandria. “As youth we’re trying to fix the country and we’ll work to do this…but these guys are just interested in money and themselves.”
Mohamed Soudan, an exiled Brotherhood official, said: “There is obvious refusal to participate, which is proof that the people know what is going on right now is a farce designed to make the current regime look democratic,” said.
“For the Love of Egypt,” an alliance of loyalist parties and politicians, is contesting all list seats and is expected to dominate.
The Nour Party, which came second in the last election, has taken part and there was anecdotal evidence of marginally higher turnout in some poorer areas where extremist sympathies run deep. Nevertheless, Nour is not expected to scoop up extremist votes that would have gone to the Brotherhood because it endorsed the previous government’s overthrow.