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Referendum campaigns resume

Political groups resume campaigns, following preliminary results of the first round of the referendum

Groups campaigning for a ‘No’ vote in the referendum are stepping up efforts across the country. (DNE/ Mohamed Omar)

Following the first phase of the constitutional referendum political groups are looking ahead to the second stage.

Campaigns for and against the constitution continue, with political groups doing their best to raise awareness in the 17 governorates yet to vote. Some groups have picked up the pace of their campaigns, while others are sticking to their initial plans.

“We have so far distributed 60,000 flyers in Beheira, 35,00 in Kafr Al-Sheikh, 60,000 in Fayoum and 30,00 in Minya,” Mohamed Adel, spokesperson of the 6 April Youth Movement (Ahmed Maher Front) said. Adel added that the movement’s target is to distribute around 45,000 flyers per governorate.

The flyers list reasons why voters should reject the draft constitution. Apart from the flyers, 6 April also arranges popular conferences where projectors are used to display videos about the constitution.

Strong Egypt Party (SEP) is also strongly involved in anti-constitution campaigns. The party’s spokesperson, Mohamed Al-Mohandess, stated that the SEP is present among the people in the same manner they adopted before the first round of the referendum.

“It will be difficult to shift the results of the referendum towards ‘No’ during the second phase,” Al-Mohandess said, “but the difference in percentage between both votes is not that big; we shall do our best.”

According to the Freedom and Justice party’s count, preliminary results of the first stage suggest that “Yes” votes made up 56.5 per cent of the vote. The National Salvation Front (NSF) states that “No” votes made up 66.5 percent.

Al-Dostour Party, one of the NSF members, is resuming a nation-wide campaign.

“We believe that the first phase of the referendum witnessed large-scale rigging,” said Ahmed Al-Hawary, member of Al-Dostour Party’s steering committee. He added that the announced turn-out, almost 30 per cent, is disappointing.  “While campaigning, we will call for repeating the first stage of the referendum.”

Al-Dostour Party’s campaign includes door to door visits and TV commercials. Al-Hawary stated that due to a tight budget, party members are usually forced to campaign at their own expense.

Pro-constitution campaigns are also moving forward. The FJP is still counting on their initial campaign entitled “With the Constitution, the Wheel of Production Will Spin.” The campaign mainly revolves around distributing copies of the draft constitution among the remaining 17 governorates (to counteract the alleged distribution of misleading counterfeit copies), as well as holding symposiums and popular meetings.

“Usually, Constituent Assembly members, who drafted the constitution, attend our events,” said Ahmed Sobei, FJP spokesperson.

Al-Nour party is also holding similar events to “enlighten” voters about the advantages of the constitution and answer to the “alleged shortcomings,” stated party high board member Sha’ban Abdel Alim. He added that the party is now working at the same pace it has been throughout the campaigning process.

Al-Wasat Party is also campaigning in favour of the constitution, chiefly by holding workshops to educate its members and travelling the country.

“The members’ morale has definitely improved now that we’ve won the first phase,” Amr Farouk, the Al-Wasat Party’s spokesperson, said, “it’s like we’ve won the first half of the match.”

The referendum on the constitution began 15 days after the draft was finalised, upon President Mohamed Morsy’s decree. Several political groups, especially those in the NSF, reject the draft constitution and the swift referendum held on it.

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