Monday will see Egypt taking a first step in a long parliamentary election process which will go on in stages until March. While the current leadership portrays the poll as a solution to the crisis, sentiment on the streets is quite the opposite.
With the people’s demands for the military government to step aside still unanswered, there is growing skepticism as to whether the vote will be fair and democratic. Some Egyptians are bracing for the worst.
Medics are lined up and security is tight for Egypt’s first parliamentary election since the revolution which toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February.
Bothaina Kamel, the country’s only female candidate for the presidency, expects the vote to be void due to fraud but sends this message to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – SCAF – who took over after Mubarak was ousted.
“We, as a movement, we are watching you. We will monitor the election just to collect the mistakes and the fraud. We have a long, long way to go for democracy,” she told RT.
Others are planning to boycott the ballot. Mina Magdy, a protester at Occupy the Cabinet, says they are encouraging people not to vote.
“We are calling on people to come down here so there would be a lot of people and nobody would vote, and then they would know that these votes and this election are not correct,” he said. “It’s wrong: how could you ask us to vote for a parliament which you are building under SCAF?”
The violent crackdown sweeping Egypt ahead of the elections seems to be pulling focus from the long-awaited dream of democracy. Mina says if the vote goes ahead, it will simply help the military cover up the blood spilled.
“Who’s going to take them to court or do something for the people that got killed?” he questioned. “I got shot in the eye, but of course it’s not that big a deal. Other people are blind and a lot of them are dead because of what happened. Who’s going to say, ‘You were wrong’?”
The party likely to win the greatest number of seats is the Freedom and Justice Party set up by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood, considered a terrorist-affiliated organization in some countries, remains highly popular in Egypt, where it has long pushed a pro-democracy line. Known for its tight organization and commitment to Islamic reforms, it is also suspected in some quarters of wheeling and dealing with the ruling military council.
“They are politicians and they’ve always made ‘deals’ from day one of the revolution. And that’s not for the revolution, that’s for power,” Bothaina Kamel believes.
And it seems to be the same power that the people in Tahrir Square have been fighting for.
“Tahrir Square people would love to have a strong representation in parliament. So I urge everybody who’s going to miss the election, please don’t do that,” declares Moatamer Amin, a political analyst and blogger.
But what Egypt wants and what Egypt gets have so far proven to be two very different things.
Many Egyptians feel the political parties on the ballot do not represent the people – and even more so, their revolution. One of the most commonly-heard comments on Tahrir Square is that the people running the country are no different from Mubarak’s crowd. Unfortunately for the protesters, they are believed to be very much in control of this vote.