A limited number of cars and citizens were seen on the streets of different areas of the governorate of Giza during the second day of the 2018 Egyptian presidential election, in which President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and head of El-Ghad Party Moussa Mostafa Moussa are facing off.
In the early hours of the day, the district of Agouza witnessed low car traffic and few pedestrians, but more females and elderly people were seen on the streets surrounding polling stations.
Pickup trucks carrying loudspeakers blasting nationalist songs and young people dancing in t-shirts reading “Tahya Masr” (Long Live Egypt) were rampant in all areas and could be easily spotted on any street.
People’s celebrations remained the most remarkable aspect of the second day; cars covered with photos of Al-Sisi were seen transporting voters, particularly females, to polling stations. Loudspeakers playing songs were set up around polling stations, calling on people to participate in the election, while other songs supporting the president and armed forces were also played.
Also, shop owners, who had already hung posters of Al-Sisi outside their properties, were repeatedly playing nationalist songs that sounded everywhere.
Daily News Egypt visited a number of polling stations in the Imbaba neighbourhood in northern Giza, Mohandessin, and Agouza, where a low turnout was witnessed on the second day of voting, and the number of voters did not exceed half the registered voters.
In Al-Munirah area, a school complex with at least four schools was surrounded with celebrations held by elderly people and females along with teenagers, which was a more striking scene than the number of voters. Citizens were playing the mizmar, an oriental flute-like instrument, and dancing to nationalist songs, while children played, wearing t-shirts with printed images of Al-Sisi and their faces painted in red and white.
Voters in the district of Imbaba were mainly working-class people, members of big families, and officials from the area. Parliamentarians from the Imbaba district played a great role in gathering the residents to vote, as they agreed with community leaders to take people to vote in exchange for money, and they also funded celebrations in front polling stations, Daily News Egypt observed.
Through discussions with heads of polling stations, it was found that the number of voters shyly increased from the first day of voting to the second. Ghazwet Tabouk Primary School received about 570 voters so far. At this polling station, 15,800 voters are registered, divided into three substations, 5,000 voters for two of them, and 5,800 for the third.
Out of 4,000 citizens registered to vote at Madinat El Omal Primary Co-ed School, only 1,000 showed up. The same was recorded at Nile Primary School and El Mostaqbal Preparatory School for girls; the first witnessed a turnout of 700 voters out of 5,123 registered, while the second witnessed 750 out of 5,800. Both schools included only one substation. These results were from the first day and until the middle of the second day of the election.
Several people standing outside stations, when asked who they would vote for, they all responded without hesitancy that their ballots are for Al-Sisi. Most voters surveyed by Daily News Egypt said they were choosing the current president, while in some rare cases, citizens said they would nullify their ballots. Most voters asserted that they have poor knowledge of the other candidate, with some even getting his name wrong.
On Sudan Street, at Beit Shohada Primary Co-ed School, no more than 20 voters were seen, mostly housewives, but a big bus was parked outside with a picture of Al-Sisi emblazoned on the back, accompanied by a number of females.
Two upper-middle class females driving a luxury car played “Teslam El-Ayady”—a song praising the Egyptian Armed Forces’ sacrifices in fighting terrorism—in their car as they went inside the polling station to vote.
Judge Mostafa Abu Kheir, stationed at the Beit Shohada school, told Daily News Egypt that the turnout on the second day was slightly better than the first day, adding that he expected the number of voters to increase in the evening and asserting that there were no violations committed by citizens.
“I am optimistic; people are being proactive and are aware of the importance of their votes. They are in good spirits as well. The turnout is moderate so far,” the judge said.
Moving to Mohandessin district, Daily News Egypt visited three schools: Al-Thawra School, Gamal Abdel Nasser Experimental School, Gamal Abdel Nasser Secondary School for Boys, and Gamal Abdel Nasser Preparatory School, and found a low turnout of voters.
In a familiar scene, in front of each polling station, patriotic songs and the national anthem were played, calling on Egyptians to participate in the election.
Those polling stations were mostly visited by females, especially elderly ones. Feryal, 70, said, “I came to support Al-Sisi. He brought back security to the country, after a long time of instability. We came to vote to guarantee a future for our children. I came for my grandsons.”
Her 18-year-old granddaughter, who expressed a lack of care in the election, said that she voted for the first time and was ordered to do so by her grandmother.
At the same polling station, as a husband and his wife left after voting, they said, “we came today to vote to not waste the due rights of police and military martyrs. They sacrificed for us to live; our vote is the least we can give them. I am Egyptian, my duty towards my country is to vote,” said Rafaat Ramy, a 49-year-old employee.
On average, approximately 15 to 20 people were seen at each polling station, which are all guarded by security forces wearing black balaclavas.
The judge heading the Abdel Nasser Preparatory School polling station, who refused to disclose his name, said, “everything is going well. The turnout is good.”
Also, a female judge at the Abdel Nasser Experimental School—who also did not provide her name—said that the turnout in the early hours of the day was moderate but expected crowds to increase during the few hours of the evening, as was the case on the first day.
All the judges interviewed said that mostly employees came to vote, and that they did not think the state needs to announce a national holiday. Only workers and students of governmental schools were given vacations, and some companies gave half a day off to their employees to grant them time to vote.
In some polling stations, charts on walls explained the voting process through illustrated drawings and warned people of nullifying their ballots, explaining the importance of participation.
At all the visited stations, Al-Sisi was the most selected candidate, while Moussa and his electoral programme did not appear well introduced to people. Similar sentiments were observed during the electoral campaigns of the candidates, as the majority of citizens focused on expressing their support for Al-Sisi through contributing to his official campaign by hanging posters everywhere across the country.
On the second day of voting, celebrations, street rallies, dancing, and patriotic songs remained the most prominent observation, as well as people’s support for Al-Sisi, as opposed to the turnout. Since the beginning of the election, social media users have been circulating videos of rallies outside polling stations, highlighting female participation in the vote and celebrations.
Mahmoud Fekry contributed additional reporting to this story.