Less than third of voters turn out in Egypt election

Cairo: Less than one third of voters cast ballots in the second phase of Egyptian parliamentary elections held across almost half of the country’s provinces at the weekend, authorities said today.

The 29.9 percent turnout was only marginally higher than the 26.6 percent registered in the first stage of voting last month, which was followed by a run-off that saw 21.7 percent vote.

Experts say the result of the election is a foregone conclusion, with the 596-member parliament expected to rubber-stamp President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s iron-fisted policies in the absence of any opposition.

The turnout in the second stage of voting held across 13 of the country’s 27 provinces was 29.83 percent, said electoral commission chief Ayman Abbas.

Ninety-nine out of 102 constituencies will now hold a run-off vote on December 1-2, he told reporters, adding that of the 222 individual seats that were contested only nine saw candidates winning with a clear majority.

In the latest vote, 60 seats from the lists saw clear winners, while in the first stage, another 60 were swept by a pro-Sisi coalition For Love of Egypt.

Of the 596 lawmakers, 448 will be elected as independents, 120 from lists and the rest 28 will be direct presidential appointees.

The election is the first since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

The previous one was held between November 2011 and January 2012, months after a popular uprising toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak.

The first round of voting in that election had seen a high turnout of 62 percent.

The legislature formed after the 2011 election which followed Mubarak’s fall was dissolved in June 2012, just days before the election as president of Sisi’s predecessor, Islamist Morsi.

Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected civilian leader, was ousted by then army chief Sisi after mass street protests.

An ensuing crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood left hundreds dead and tens of thousands imprisoned.

While the Brotherhood has been brutally crushed and banned from contesting candidates, many secular and leftist groups are also either boycotting the vote or are badly represented.

In addition to the For Love of Egypt coalition, another key group is The Egyptian Front, led by Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last premier.

The openly pro-Sisi Salafist Al-Nur party, which backed Morsi’s ouster, is the only Islamist party standing.

Leftist parties lack popular support and have little chance.