For the first time since the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians go to the polls this week fairly certain about the outcome, even before the first ballot has been cast. And that, for many here, is precisely is the problem. Where Egyptians after the 2011 revolt once believed that voting was a chance to be heard in a relatively free process, many believe Tuesday and Wednesday’s balloting on a new constitution will be rigged for the military-sanctioned document to pass. The enthusiasm and drama that preceded previous votes has been be replaced with resignation that the coming balloting is merely a formality and not a people’s process, a means to codify the return to the old norms that the uprising was supposed to end. That no one can appeal the ruling of the High Election Commission on the vote’s outcome has only reinforced that belief.
Many Egyptians welcome the predictability, after three years of upheaval. A quick approval of the document is the best chance to instill order to the country, they say.
Voter turnout is expected to be less than the 33 percent who came out for the last referendum, on the 2012 constitution written largely by Muslim Brotherhood supporters of President Mohammed Morsi. When Morsi was ousted, that constitution was suspended by Defense Minister Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt’s strongman.
There is no organized campaign in opposition to the new constitution. The Brotherhood, which has been subjected to a government crackdown since Morsi’s ouster in July, has called for its supporters to boycott the vote. So have a number of those who were at the forefront of the anti-Mubarak demonstrations three years ago.