Turnout has been low among Egyptians voting from abroad in the run-offs for the second phase of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, according to officials, community figures and polling data.
The head of the committee overseeing voting abroad was expecting turnout to be higher than that of the first phase, but as of Tuesday, polling data suggested the opposite. The highest turnout was in Saudi Arabia with a 30.4%, followed by 18.3% in Kuwait and 12.7% in the UAE.
Egyptian expats went to the polls on Monday and Tuesday, with 426 candidates competing for 213 run-off seats on the “individual” candidate system. Only nine of the 222 “individual” seats contested in the second phase were secured by a majority, leaving 213 up for grabs in the run-offs.
Polling stations were opened in 139 consulates and embassies worldwide, open to voters from 9am to 9pm over the two days of elections.
In Paris, Malak Shenouda, deputy president of the Egyptian Union in France, an association of Egyptian expatriates, told Daily News Egypt that the turnout in France is very low partly because of concerns related to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.
“Paris differs from any other country because people here, whether Egyptians or French, are still afraid after the Paris attacks, and the entire atmosphere of panic has prevented Egyptians from participating,” Shenouda said.
“There is a security alert in the country and the army is deployed in the streets to secure the polls,” Shenouda said.
He described high levels of security at both the consulate and embassy, with police deployed in cars to protect voters.
However, the turnout problem was not confined to France. Egyptian ambassadors in several countries said that turnout in the run-offs on Monday had been low.
Egypt’s ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Nasser Hamdy, encouraged Egyptians there to cast their votes and predicted higher voter participation by the end of Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s ambassador to Germany, Badr Abdel Atty, said turnout was low on Monday but Tuesday would probably be better.
In Istanbul, the Egyptian consul, Bassam Rady, said turnout was low because the elections were taking place on working days. He said the Turkish authorities are completely securing the consulate, where voting was taking place, and that there were no problems with access.
Egypt’s ambassador to the UAE, Wael Gad, described participation on Monday as average, predicting better turnout on Tuesday.
Daily News interviewed several Egyptians abroad to discover their views on the elections and whether or not they voted.
Nasser Al-Sherif, 28, who lives in Dublin, Ireland, said he did not vote in either phase of the elections because he is not convinced of the purpose of the elections and does not care about the result. None of his friends voted either, he said.
Norhan Abaza, 26, who lives in Doha, Qatar, said she did not vote in either phase. She said she was not normally interested in news or politics, and she did not know where the polling stations were located.
One Egyptian man living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, who wished to remain anonymous, also said that he is not interested in the elections. He is as supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, and therefore against the current government and the elections they have organised.
Every Egyptian resident living abroad can vote if their name is registered in the voters’ database, showing the relevant form of ID on the day of voting. They must be in possession of a national ID card, including their address in Egypt, or a passport that proves their identity.
The number of Egyptians living abroad is estimated at 8 million people and about 682,000 of them have the right to vote.
The elections are considered the final phase of the “Roadmap to Democracy”, which was announced by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in July 2013, following the removal from power of President Mohamed Morsi by the military after protests against his rule.