About Khaled Sayed

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Democratic Election Illusion.




You can say many things about Egyptian politics but calling it unpredictable isn’t one of them. Since the first time we had so called democratic and free elections, we always knew who would win, and the 2014 presidential election is no different.
Many Egyptians can’t help feeling like one candidate is the winner this year and that feeling is not new at all. In the Egyptian presidential election of 2012, after our amazing revolution in 2011, we were rushed into an election that forced us to vote for the Muslim Brotherhood puppet “Mohamed Morsi”.
Morsi’s campaign was like a flood that swept Egypt; banners covering buildings, posters everywhere, and he was on TV more than any of his opponents. Morsi’s image was blasted all over the place, and Egyptians were sold on the change he would bring to Egypt. Little did we know it was more of the same.
This time around we have two candidates, but you hardly can see anyone else next to the former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Like Morsi, his images are on the buildings, his banners are in the streets, and he is all over the TV.  We’re seeing Sisi giving interviews all over, but Sisi’s rival, leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, is hardly visible.
With headlines like “Sisi Set for a Landslide Win After Egypt Presidential Election Ends,“  and another headline reading, “ A Landslide Victory for Ex-Army Chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is widely expected” leading into the election, it is obvious who everyone believes is going to win.
Many Egyptians are not participating in this election because they feel it is not a fair nor democratic election. But people are not allowed to voice their disagreement with the way this election has been run. Furthermore they are not allowed to protest peacefully in the street. The new anti-demonstration law that was passed this year by the acting interim president left many people in jail awaiting trials, and scared the rest of the Egyptians from protesting.
The overwhelming sentiment is: if you don’t vote for Sisi you are a traitor and you are against the army. With an atmosphere like that, people can’t help but to reman in silence. Activists are pressured to keep their opinions to themselves.
Away from all the campaign and election fuss, many poor people in Egypt don’t care one way or another. After a few years of chaos and clashes, the poor people are still suffering and their situation hasn’t improved, but rather declined. Over a quarter of Egyptians live under the poverty line.
Whoever wins the election, to many people it won’t change much. Knowing who will win an election before it happens takes all its legitimacy away, and makes it far from a democratic process. For now we are jus worried that Sisi will set Egypt back to an old repressive regime that Egyptians are very familiar with when he wins, which, of course, he will.