Polling stations close their doors after the end of the first day of Egyptian parliamentary elections in the first phase amid extremely weak turnout estimated at 2.27 per cent only.
Observers and pro and anti-coup media have unanimously agreed that the turnout has been extremely low in all the governorates where polling has taken place.
The first phase of elections has taken place in 14 governorates:
- Beni Suef
- Al-Wadi Al-Jadid
- Red Sea
- Mersa Matruh
Online news site Arabi21 testified to the absence of voters throughout the day at a number of polling stations. The streets and the squares appeared so vacant too and lacked the scenes of competition and heated discussions they used to have during previous Egyptian elections. This unprecedented situation was not even seen during the time of deposed President Hosni Mubarak.
Activists on social media shared videos of armed forces vehicles roaming the streets of Faiyum with loudspeakers mounting on them broadcasting pro-Sisi songs such as “Bushrat Khair” and “Tislam Al-Ayadi” in a desperate attempt to urge citizens to come out and vote. In the video the army can be seen dancing and begging voters to go to the polling stations.
One of the candidates in the Al-Haram area resorted to distributing free kebabs and kofta meals to voters to encourage them to head to the polling stations.
In an endeavour to encourage citizens to come out and cast their votes, pro-coup media broadcast images of celebrities and public figures as they cast their votes.
TV anchors appealed to artists and sportspersons to go to the polling stations to encourage citizens to take part.
The Minister of the Interior Major General Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar called on citizens to take part in the elections. He stressed that the security conditions in and around polling stations is stable and that there are no obstacles to hinder the participation of any citizen in casting his or her vote.
Having found that the means of enticement did not succeed in attracting citizens to the polling stations, the government resorted to threatening citizens with fines.
A source within the Supreme Elections Committee stressed that after the second day of voting comes to an end, the names of voters who failed to cast their votes will be sent to the prosecutor’s office in order for legal action to be taken against them.
The source also explained that those who fail to cast their votes despite having their names listed in the voters’ register will be penalised with a fine not exceeding 500 Egyptian pounds ($63).
Some 27 million Egyptians are listed in the voters’ register.