Sunday, 20 March 2011

Egyptian referendum result

All the signs point to a substantial majority in favour of the constitutional amendments on which Egyptians voted on Saturday, with an astonishing turnout of over 60 percent. See ahramonline for the latest details, with preliminary figures from many provinces. I was clearly misled about overall sentiment by my personal exposure to so many 'no' voters. It will be interesting to compare the figures from individual areas but it's not clear how much detail the authorities will provide on that, beyond the numbers for provinces as a whole. For a change we can safely assume that the figures are roughly authentic, despite some reports of abuses here and there. YouTube has footage that apparently shows a clerk filling in the 'yes' circle on blank ballot papers but I've no idea if it is genuine or how widespread such activities might have been or who might have instigated it. From my brief tour of polling stations on Saturday and from media coverage, I concluded that social conservatives and uneducated people in rural areas were most likely to vote 'yes', while educated urban liberals tended to vote 'no'.  The latter are a relatively small demographic group, so the outcome is not in fact surprising. For those who have not been following the debate, the difference between 'yes' and 'no' was not that great, making the referendum an easy start for Egyptian democracy in action. A 'yes' majority means presidential and parliamentary elections will take place within six months and the newly elected parliament will appoint a large committee to rewrite the constitution from scratch. A 'no' majority would have meant that a new constitution would have to be written before elections, but it was never too clear how that process would proceed. One major argument of the 'no' camp was that the new political forces need more time to organise before elections, otherwise the well-established forces - the Muslim Brotherhood and local strongmen associated with the old ruling party - will define the country's future. But that argument smacked of elitism and scaremongering about the Brotherhood.

No comments:

Post a Comment