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Were Egypt's first elections really free and fair?
Early results suggest that two candidates will compete for the presidency in a June run-off, but some observers reported irregularities at the polls
 
An Egyptian woman casts her ballot Wednesday: Egypt's first truly competitive presidential election may not have been perfect, some say, but it was a significant step forward.
An Egyptian woman casts her ballot Wednesday: Egypt's first truly competitive presidential election may not have been perfect, some say, but it was a significant step forward.
Wissam Nassar/Corbis

Egypt wrapped up two days of voting Thursday in what's being hailed as the country's first legitimate presidential election. The counting continued Friday, but partial results suggest that Mohammed Mursi, the candidate of the once-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, has earned a spot in a June run-off. The battle for the second slot remains tight, with a darkhorse leftist candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, neck-and-neck with Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force commander and holdover from the Hosni Mubarak era. Islamists have threatened to protest if Shafiq wins, saying his victory could only happen in a rigged vote. Some observers reported irregularities, but former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said the election was "blessed with transparency, an eagerness to participate, integrity, and an overwhelming turnout." Was the balloting as fair as Egyptian leaders promised it would be?

Egypt really rose to the occasion: Egypt's newly won democracy has passed its second big test, says Bradley Hope at the United Arab Emirates' The National. The presidential vote was as "free and fair" as the successful parliamentary elections in November. There were isolated problems, but none of the old vote-rigging. The country's "notoriously bureaucratic institutions" came through, with 14,500 judges supervising nearly 14,000 polling stations and substations — a "remarkable feat."
"Egypt's historic vote: 'It feels great ... but it's also scary'"

No. The vote was fixed by the military: This was Egypt's first truly competitive presidential election, says Alaa Al Aswany at The Huffington Post, so it's "a great step forward," thanks to the revolution. Balloting, however, was "very far from being fair" because the Military Council wrote the rules to get the results that it wanted. The election was not transparent at all, so Shafiq and other non-revolutionary candidates were able to spend a fortune without telling voters where they got the money. And, yes, there were signs of vote rigging.
"Are the Egyptian elections fair?"

Egypt is getting better at this: Egypt's electoral system isn't perfect, but it's improving, election specialist Ossama Kamel tells Reuters. There was "a lot better control of campaigning on election day," with none of the shenanigans seen in the parliamentary vote, when Muslim Brotherhood ushers told people "where to vote and, by implication, who to vote for." It's getting harder to stuff ballot boxes and hustle votes on election day, and that's a very good sign.
"Egypt election looks fairer than last: expert"

 

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