Little enthusiasm in Egypt in vote for powerless Senate

Security was tight, with police at polling stations and patrolling Cairo streets
Thursday 13/08/2020
Security forces stand guard outside a polling station during the second day of Egypt’s senate elections in Cairo, August 12. (REUTERS)
Security forces stand guard outside a polling station during the second day of Egypt’s senate elections in Cairo, August 12. (REUTERS)

CAIRO –Egypt concluded a two-day election for two-thirds of the seats in the country’s Senate, which was restored as part of constitutional amendments approved in a referendum last year.

Vote counting started right after the closure of polling stations amid reports of a very low turnout that was recorded in several regions of the country.

In fact, many Egyptians appeared less than enthusiastic about the operation, with some complaining the 300-seat body — unlike the House of Representatives, the lower chamber — has no legislative powers.

Government supporters, however, argued the body was conceived to play a mostly advisory role.

An Arab Weekly correspondent confirmed Tuesday that most people went about business as usual amid the scorching summer heat, with some saying they plan to vote before polls closed Wednesday night.

People wait to cast their votes as they queue while keeping social distance outside a polling station during Egypt’s senate elections in Cairo. (REUTERS)
People wait to cast their votes as they queue while keeping social distance outside a polling station during Egypt’s senate elections in Cairo. (REUTERS)   

The Senate replaces the Shura Council, which was eliminated from the country’s 2014 constitution.

The head of the election commission vowed to enforce a law penalising boycotters with a fine of around $32, according to the state-run MENA news agency.

Similar warnings have been issued in previous elections, with no real enforcement. They were meant to boost turnout.

Some 63 million voters are eligible to cast ballots, according to the National Election Authority. Only 200 of the 300 Senate seats are up for grabs, with 787 candidates running. Egyptian expatriates voted Sunday and Monday.

Security was tight, with police at polling stations and patrolling Cairo streets. The military said it deployed troops to assist.

Supporters of some candidates could be seen clapping and dancing in front of some polling stations in the capital Cairo, as patriotic music played from loudspeakers.

The first 100 seats in the Senate are reserved for individual candidates, the next 100 for those running on a list dominated by pro-government parties and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will choose the remaining 100 members.

Lasheen Ibrahim, chairman of the National Election Authority, said the election commission will announce the official results on August 19.

Runoffs will take place in September.