When he felt his vote would finally count after years of indifference, Mohamed Saad decided to cast his ballot in consecutive referendums and parliamentary and presidential elections after the popular uprising in 2011 renewed hope for a better future for Egypt. A little less than five years have passed and Saad lost his enthusiasm and passion. He realised that hope is a good breakfast, but a bad supper. “I won’t vote again; it’s useless. I will do nothing, absolutely nothing,” said the 25-year-old, who works in a travel agency in Downtown Cairo, referring to Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections that kick off 18 and 19 October after months of procrastination and legal wrangling. The election of Egypt’s House of Representatives will complete a roadmap drawn up following the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and return legislative powers from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, but few feel the urgency left over from the days when heated political discussions yielded long voting queues and interesting debates over the credentials of potential lawmakers.
In November 2011, almost nine months after an 18-day revolt toppled autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak, intense media coverage was a reflection of the interest many citizens had in the elections, with a big percentage deeming themselves apolitical but eager to shape the future of a country long beset by poverty and stagnancy.
The November elections saw a historic turnout that exceeded 50 percent, in stark contrast to the 2010 elections when less than 20 percent of eligible voters cast their ballot amid widespread reports of fraud and electoral irregularities under Mubarak’s regime.
It has been an out-and-out rollercoaster since then.