Sisi expected to win as Egyptians appear indifferent to the vote

The first round of voting for the lower house begins tomorrow. Turnout is expected to be low and the possibility of large gatherings raises fears over COVID-19. The outgoing parliament has done precious little, experts bemoan. Both lower and upper house are controlled by the executive branch.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Egyptians go to the polls this week-end amid widespread indifference, few doubts about the outcome. and fears over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Voters will cast their ballot to elect the House of Representatives (Magles en-Nowwab), Egypt’s lower house of parliament. Turnout is expected to be low and the results are a foregone conclusion, with pro-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi candidates expected to easily win. Sisi has been in power for six years and no one is expected to undermine his rule.

Some 63 million Egyptians (out of a population of 100 million) are entitled to choose 568 parliamentarians; another 28 will be directly appointed by the president, for a total of 596.

The election is the first since a series of constitutional reforms were adopted in 2019, extending the president’s term of office and re-establishing the Senate.

Voters in 14 governorates will go to the polls on 24 and 25 October, whilst the other 13 will vote on 7 and 8 November. In case no one wins in the first round, a run-off will take place.

The final results will be announced on 14 December, but pro-Sisi candidates are expected to win. The opposition 25-30 Alliance is not expected to increase its vote.

For Egypt experts, the outgoing parliament’s five years are a disappointment. Hassan Nafaa, a political scientist at Cairo University, reports that "Parliament is at tool of the government, without any real legislative power.”

The House "has almost never questioned any of the decisions made by the government, which has performed the functions that belong to Parliament””

The pro-government coalition led by Nation's Future Party (Mostaqbal Watan) is presenting the largest contingent of candidates, including influential businessmen and public figures.

Last week, the party’s chief, Abdel Wahab Abdel Razek, was elected speaker of the 300-member Senate, which was chosen in August and September (200 elected and 100 appointed by the president. The upper house had been abolished under ousted President Mohamed Morsi, who was close to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In addition to the re-introduction of the Senate, last year’s reforms include allowing the president to stay in power until 2030 and boosting his control over the judiciary, thus extending even more the power and influence of the military.

These changes have undermined the separation of powers and fuelled Egyptians’ loss of faith in voting. On social media, many have branded the upcoming elections a "farce" or "useless".

Saeed Sadiq, a professor of political sociology at the University of the Nile in Giza near Cairo, shares this view. For him, a low turnout can be expected, showing a general lack of interest in elections.