Egypt Tried To Hold An Election And Pretty Much No One Came
Egypt is holding its first parliamentary elections since 2011, and no one is showing up to the polls.
Turnout was so low on Sunday the government gave state workers a half-day off to encourage people to go vote.
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said there was 15 to 16 percent voting turnout on Sunday, but Reuters correspondents suggest it was more like 10 percent.
For a country that tipped the Arab Spring by ousting Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and protested again, leading to the ousting of democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi, in 2013, this would seem like some seriously uncharacteristic political apathy -- except it’s anything but.
Young people are refusing to vote out of frustration and lack of faith in the political system.
Since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former military general who ousted Morsi and was officially elected president in 2014, took power, there has been a crackdown on political dissidents, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
There have been many arrests and harsh sentences, including death, for protesters and journalists. Young people view some interruptions -- like WhatsApp and Skype calls apparently being blocked -- as governmental attempts to cut off their communication and free speech.
There is no major opposition party in this election, and it is expected to bring in only Sisi-supporting politicians. Although there is still significant support for Sisi among Egyptians, the lack of opposition adds to the evidence that political freedom is considerably low in the country.
Young people are the popular force in Egypt, and they are making their stance clear with this election.
After years of government turmoil, it is disheartening to see political conditions are seemingly unchanged. The youth pushed for revolution, hoping to improve their nation and see real freedom with a functioning, democratic system, but many people now feel stunted and let down.
Mona Ahmed, 20, told the New York Times about her decision not to vote, stating:
Everyone is lying to everyone.
Despite the conditions for the second day of voting, there does not appear to be any major increase in turnout.