Considering that for 308 consecutive days, Egyptians have been threatened with bombings, or bombs were found and defused, attacks by gunmen have threatened police and army officers, students in support of the Muslim Brotherhood at various universities challenged the protest law with less-than-peaceful protests, they nonetheless went to the polls and voted for Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi or his opponent Hamdeen Sabahy. This demonstrated a substantial measure of public trust that authorities will protect them. The sky is blue. The Muslim Brotherhood are unable to sweep in and carry out assassinations as they had promised.
The foreign media have tried their best to hammer home a series of negative attacks on al-Sisi, aided by some in Egypt who fear a return to the military-influenced and authoritarian governments of Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak. Or who simply want to get along well with their editors.
As the elections began, the narrative tchanged in the foreign media and to some degree in the Egyptian media. Suddenly the focus was on turnout. If a turnout of 40% of registered voters weren’t reached, then they wouldn’t be successful. Media personalities used their most dramatic voices to tell Egyptians to go to the polls.
Egyptians, on the other hand, know that voting is optional. It could be made mandatory as in certain countries. And they know that a far larger number of voters support al-Sisi than support Sabahy. And it has been very hot in the day hours, approximately 101-102 degrees F.
The leftists, and boycotters (yes there was a boycott, mainly consisting of supporters of the April 6th movement which had for its own reasons allied with the Muslim Brotherhood – and what is left of the MB’s support) compared this election with the 2012 race between Morsi and Shafik, in which Morsi won by only 800,000 votes.
Perhaps they forgot that a lot of Egyptians were quite unhappy with the choice between Morsi and Shafik, opting for one or the other as the least-bad option, as people tend to in democracies where the candidates for president are limited to two on the final round.
Egypt’s Presidential Election Committee decided to extend the elections for a third day and for a variety of reasons. One may concern the fact that in order to satisfy foreign election observer teams, this time around, Egyptians who work far away from their homes were not permitted to vote at polling places where they work. There were 2 days of vacation from work in 2012, and not only one. Still, it was surprising to see the foreign media and even election observers like Democracy International complain that extending voting to a third day compromised the fairness of the election. The two campaigns also complained – clearly, everyone desires a fully transparent election process – were voters who voted on the first day disadvantaged if they did not know they had a third day to vote? – (but one which should also be fair to voters.)
I received a fair number of media requests requiring me to repeat everything I have already said about Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi when he studied at the U.S. Army War College (and a fair number of vicious personal attacks, some by people I had considered friends for being somehow personally responsible for his candidacy! )
Here are a few pictures from the elections which show that there were queues (that’s ‘lines’ in Americanese) I decided to post just these few (there are more in my Twitter Feed) as Richard Spencer of the Telegraph claimed there weren’t any, he didn’t see any on TV, plenty of state TV stations showed empty polls, etc. and as I began sending these photos to him, he made it clear they don’t matter. The narrative is all that matters.
Now at the end of the day, Egyptians lining up to vote at their elections DO matter along with hope and pleasure in their faces.