Egypt will soon complete the first round of parliamentary elections, including runoffs. Looking at the exclusion of candidates, these elections were undemocratic. Awakening U.S. Government critics is particularly likely looking at the State Department’s annual human rights report. At the start of this year, that report addressed last year’s 2014 election of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and said that the context was “not conducive to genuine democratic elections” and that “limits on the freedom of expression and assembly ‘impaired’ the process.” Similar criticism of the current 2015 parliamentary elections is likely to come from U.S. Government critics. Besides the State Department, another center of observation of Egyptian affairs has been in the U.S. Senate, particularly Senator Patrick Leahy, senior Democrat on the subcommittee that oversees aid funds to Egypt. Senator Leahy, voicing concerns similar to those quoted below, said to Forbes.com on November 9th that “free and fair elections are about far more than casting ballots. Just as important is the ability of opposition parties to organize and candidates to participate without interference in the months and weeks leading up to election day. Egypt today, where political parties are banned and their leaders imprisoned, makes a mockery of the most fundamental principles of democracy.”
Certainly, turnout in Egyptian elections has dropped precipitously. In 2011, the last parliamentary poll drew 62 percent of the registered voters. Today, the electoral commission said turnout was under 27%
Only a narrow group of parties took part. Partly, the al-Sisi regime had imprisoned leaders of either Islamist parties, deeming them terrorists, or even secular and leftist groups whose only offense was peaceful nonsupport of al-Sisi. Beyond those parties actually crushed, many other parties boycotted the election, partly scared off because they saw what happened to a party daring to oppose the regime.