Egyptians trickled into mostly empty polling centers as they voted Sunday in the second stage of parliamentary elections that will produce the country’s first legislature since a chamber dominated by Islamists was dissolved by a court ruling in 2012. Tens of thousands of troops and policemen were deployed to safeguard the two-day vote, reflecting growing security concerns less than a month after a Russian airliner crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. Russia has said the crash was caused by an onboard bomb, and a local Islamic State affiliate claimed the Oct. 31 attack. The attack led Russia to suspend flights to and from Egypt and Britain to cancel routes to the popular Sharm el-Sheikh resort, where the flight originated, dealing a major blow to Egypt’s tourism industry, which was already hurting from years of unrest.
The new, 596-seat legislature is due to hold its inaugural session next month after a runoff is held in early December. Egyptians voted last month in 14 provinces, the vote’s first phase, with a turnout of nearly 27 percent. The latest phase is being held in the other 14 provinces and the capital, Cairo.
That was the lowest turnout in any vote, except one for a toothless upper chamber in 2012, since the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a 2011 popular uprising.
Turnout in the second phase is not likely to be much higher given the widespread apathy over the political process under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The career army officer led the military’s ouster of Egypt’s first freely elected leader, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, in 2013, amid a wave of mass demonstrations against his rule. El-Sissi was elected last year.