Wednesday, 21 October 2015


Having witnessed several rounds of voting in Egypt for new parliaments, new presidents, new constitutions, I really missed not being in Cairo for the ongoing  homage to President Sisi. During the presidential election in May, 2014, women queued in droves to vote for their balding pin up.  Women are not turning out as before.  Neither are men,  Reports from friends in Cairo and Alexandria  show that several polling stations in the populous areas were empty, except for an occasional handful of elderly voters. Almost every news account reported a dearth of voters elsewhere as well. The love affair is over.

Alarmed by the low turnout on Sunday, the prime minister  gave public employees a half-day holiday on Monday to encourage more voting. The governor of Alexandria dropped the fares for public transportation. Pro-government talk show hosts (that's most of them) hectored their audiences to get out and vote. For what? The elections are being held under a number of legislations that make all forms of collective action illegal including   the “protest law” that’s been in effect since 2013, but they also include the “NGOs law”, the “terrorism law” and the amendments to the “Azhar law”.  All forms of collective action are under the scrutiny of the government so it's a wonder, in this Mickey Mouse state, that voters have not been arrested for queuing at polling stations.  The difference is that the the government, by working within a legalised framework of repression, is sure to get the results it wants. 

For this parliamentary vote,  Sisi has put up three-quarters of the seats  for competition by individual candidates, favouring the prominent and wealthy.The majority of candidates are very proud to be apolitical - which promises more of the same old   political affiliations and the fostering of individual interests.  The rest are   devoid of any political ideas and the opposition is zilch leaving the regime unmonitored and unchallenged. It's tempting to want the return of the Muslim Brotherhood, if only to liven things up a bit.

Egyptians, however, have been adding their own brand of humour to this damp squid. “I need to sit alone for a while.I am going to a polling station." “No one went today either” was trending on Twitter.

The Egyptian government is, as usual, in a state of denial and (of course) blaming the western media for misreporting. Far from being dismal, this has been the best post-revolution election ever. Even taking into account the boycotting of the elections by the Muslim Brotherhood and others,  Egyptians are hinting at a simmering collective dissent by refusing to  vote for the same old medley of crooks. They can hear the  death knell ringing for the political entities that emerged after the 'revolution' and they are witnessing  the  re-configuring of old  political elites. But the memory of the 'revolution' can't be stamped out, re-edited or  revised because everybody was there.  Fading pin-up Sisi, may discover sooner, or later, that the death knell is tolling for him.

The low turnout recalls elections for the rubber-stamp parliaments under Mubarak,(now born-again in the Sun God's parliament) although he allowed more competition. The rip-off merchant  and his military cronies are back again...but not by popular demand. Fi hob Misr.

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