Many Egyptian voters shunned the first phase of a parliamentary election on Sunday that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has hailed as a milestone on the road to democracy but his critics have branded as a sham. Polling stations visited by Reuters correspondents pointed to a turnout of around 10 percent, in sharp contrast to the long lines that formed in the 2012 election, suggesting that Sisi, who has enjoyed cult-like adulation, is losing popularity. Elderly supporters of Sisi comprised a large proportion of those turning out to vote, while younger Egyptians boycotted an election for a chamber they say will just rubber-stamp the president’s decisions.
“It’s not going to matter. It’s just for show, to show that we are a democracy, and we have elections, and blah blah blah any nonsense,” said Ahmed Mostafa, 25, who works in a lab.
Ahmed Ibrahim, a 34-year-old accountant, had a similar view. “The youth in Egypt, our ambition in 2011, we were going to build the country – but then suddenly it was stolen from us,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of my friends are not going to vote.”
The government declared a half-day holiday on Monday for state workers, apparently hoping to encourage more voting.