On May 23-24, 2012, Egyptians went to the polls to participate in round one of voting to elect the country’s first president since the toppling of its autocratic leader, Hosni Mubarak, on February 11, 2011. The following photo essay from Muftah staff writer, Nancy Elshami, captures the atmosphere during and after the elections.
Voting in the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections took place on May 23-24, 2012. This is one of the polling stations in Alexandria, Egypt. Each station had a separate queue for men and women. The voter turnout for the elections was much lower than expected, with only about 42% participation, whereas participation during the parliamentary elections was over 60%. Final results of the first round brought Mohamed Morsy and Ahmed Shafik to the runoff, each getting about 25% of the vote with Morsy enjoying less than a 1% advantage.
Posters for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsy, are ubiquitous. Morsy was nominated as a backup candidate to the Brotherhood’s lead contender Khairat El-Shater, who was disqualified. Many people have criticized the Muslim Brotherhood for nominating a presidential candidate after declaring several times that they would not field a presidential candidate. This large banner in Damanhour, Egypt cites all of Morsy’s celebrity supporters, from thinkers to writers and religious scholars. The banner also states that Morsy came in first among Egyptians voting abroad, who cast their ballots between May 11-17.
The headquarters for Ahmed Shafik’s campaign in the Beheira governorate. Ahmed Shafiq is an army general and former minister of the Mubarak regime. He was appointed Prime Minister during the Revolution on January 31, 2011, overseeing the infamous ‘Camel Battle.’ While Shafiq maintained his position as Prime Minister after Mubarak’s ouster, he was removed due to public pressure on March 3, 2011.
Hamdeen Sabbahy, a self-proclaimed Nasserist was the black horse of these elections. Sabbahy was a former MP during the Mubarak regime, and was jailed three times for his opposition. While most projections brought former Muslim Brotherhood member AbdelMoneim AboulFotouh ahead, Sabbahy came in third place with over 20 percent of the vote. His pictures are most frequently seen on cars and homes like this one.
Along with Sabbahy, AbdelMoneim AboulFotouh is the other prominent candidate on the ‘Revolutionist’ ballot. Though not as popular, other revolutionist candidates are Khaled Aly and Mohamed Selim alAwwa. AboulFotouh came in fourth place in the first round, with about 17 % of the vote. His performance along with former foreign minister, Amr Moussa, who garnered only 11 % of the vote, came as a surprise to many. For several weeks they had been viewed as the frontrunners in the race. Many claim that their televised debate on May 11th hurt both their campaigns.
The election results for the first round came as a shock to many, in Alexandria especially where Morsy and Shafik came in last. Whereas other candidates’ posters are posted on houses and walls in all sizes, Shafik’s ad campaign is primarily based on very large posters hung high on buildings. This did not stop youth from tearing down the picture of Shafiq that towered over Alexandria’s train station in Sidi Gaber after the election results came out. The youth later laid the picture out on the street so oncoming cars could drive over it.
Discontent with Shafiq’s ascension to the second round of voting pervades many parts of Alexandria. While numerous voters, including those who supported Hamdeen Sabbahy, have quietly resolved to vote for Shafiq to avoid the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power, there is a palpable frustration with Shafiq’s success so far. Many view Shafik as a continuation of the Mubarak regime, and a death knell for the Revolution. The graffiti pictured above is an expletive directed toward Shafik. Similar sentiments against the old guard candidate can be seen and heard throughout Egypt.
Several large-scale protests have erupted throughout Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Port Said since the results of the first round of voting were announced. While there are political divisions among the protestors, they remain united in their frustration with being forced to accept as president either a member of the former regime or the Muslim Brotherhood middleman.
A young girl in a passing car holds her shoe up in support of the protestors. The shoe harkens back to several events in which shoes were hurled at Shafiq. This gesture is very expressive in Arab culture, suggesting that the person is far beneath you, almost insect-like.
This protestor took the young girl’s gesture a step further by writing Shafiq’s name on the bottom of his flipflop.
This man holds up a sign that reads “My Invalid Vote is the Vote of the Revolution.” The sign echoes calls from many prominent revolutionaries to invalidate one’s vote by marking both candidates on the ballot. Some activists have called for a total boycott of the elections, arguing there is no point in participating in elections orchestrated by the SCAF.
Protestors spray paint a stencil of Shafiq saying “You Will Not Rule.” Political graffiti has burgeoned in post-Revolutionary Egypt, from the simple expletives previously pictured to stencils and elaborate works of art. The newfound freedom of expression discovered by the youth through Facebook and Twitter is, in such a way, brought to the heart of the Egyptian street.
A protestor holds up a sign saying “The People Want the Implementation of the Isolation Law.” The “isolation law,” which has been passed by the Egyptian Parliament, prevents former members of the Mubarak regime from participating in political life. The Constitutional Court is supposed to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of the law in July. Many believe that the presidential elections should have been postponed until a final decision was made on this law.
This is an image of the Alexandria skyline at sunset. On one end is a mosque, and at the other end a citadel, symbolic of the opposing forces battling for popular support in Egypt. As the clock winds down on the final battle over the trajectory of Egypt’s revolution, the country finds itself choosing between two forces that have been at odds throughout the country’s history. On one end, there is the Muslim Brotherhood, which gained its popularity from its oppositional stances and social services in Egypt’s countryside. Since the Revolution began, the group has lost a lot of its credibility for taking mercurial political positions, aligning itself with the protestors or the SCAF based on short-term interests. Many fear that, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s hold over Egypt’s two houses of Parliament, a victory in the presidential elections will give the group unchecked power. Others are wary of Egypt becoming a Sharia-led country “like Iran.” On the other end, Shafiq represents a continuation of the Mubarak regime. On many occasions, Shafiq has stated that protests would not be tolerated under his reign, and that the state of emergency law would likely persist. Shafiq is also currently facing over 30 charges of corruption filed with the General Attorney. He has referred to Mubarak as his role model and has stated that “unfortunately, the Revolution succeeded,” all the while attempting to present himself to the revolutionary youth as the ideal candidate. As the tug of war between these forces continues, the Egyptian people will be the only real losers in this election.