Egypt elections: turnout low as voters go to the polls

President Sisi's camp looks set to dominate elections thanks to a weak opposition

Egypt voting
(Image credit: Khaled Desoukik/AFP/Getty Images)

Egypt's parliamentary elections are underway, with voter turnout extremely low so far. The two-part elections started on Sunday and will go on throughout today, with polls open in 14 of Egypt's 27 governorates – the other 13 will vote on 21 November.

Should the elections be conclusive, Egypt will have its first parliament in three years this December (the last parliament dissolved in June 2012 after previous elections were deemed unconstitutional). Since then, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has held all legislative powers.

Previous election troubles and the ousting of the democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 have meant that people's faith in the election process and in Egypt's president Sisi has turned sour. Polling stations appear to back this up, with numbers from Sunday barely reaching ten per cent, says The Guardian. "With an absence of opposition parties – such as the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, which has faced a deadly government crackdown overseen by Sisi – the poll has not inspired the enthusiasm witnessed for Egypt's first democratic elections in 2011," says the newspaper.

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In Al-Ahram, Egypt's widely read government-owned newspaper, one voter asks: "Why would I want to take part in this fake electoral process that is designed only to make the president, who came to power by removing an elected president, look legitimate?"

Even so, says the BBC, nobody is expecting anything less than a "resounding" win for a parliament loyal to Sisi. "While many candidates are standing as 'independents', they're likely to be loyal to one of the coalitions which will dominate the new parliament," it says.

The new parliament will have more legislative powers than before, including a prime minister veto, but with opposition weak, president Sisi won't encounter much resistance for his own agenda.

Despite the low turnout, police are still out in force throughout Egypt, for fear of disruptions from pro-Morsi supporters and Islamists. According to Al-Ahram, there are 120,000 police officers and central security forces for 18,945 polling stations, and 185,000 army personnel deployed throughout the country.

Currently, there is a 500 Egyptian pound (£40) fine for anyone who fails to vote without good reason, but many Egyptians remain sceptical about it being enforced.

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