Heat adds to fatigue of Egyptian voters

Maybe the heat had something to do with it: but as temperatures soared in Cairo there was little sense of the joy and excitement that had been evident in last years parliamentary elections.

    Maybe the heat had something to do with it: but as temperatures soared in Cairo there was little sense of the joy and excitement that had been evident in last years parliamentary elections, or even in the first round of the presidential vote.

    There were again early morning queues of people before the polling stations opened.

    But the talk among many of those waiting was not so much who was going to win but rather what sort of power the new president would have.

    In just over a year Egyptians have cast votes in a referendum, parliamentary elections, and now two rounds over four days of presidential balloting.

    Each occasion tagged with the inevitable "another step towards real democracy" label.

    A lot of voting that in reality has resulted in nothing tangible.

    After the referendum in which changes to the 1971 constitution were popularly approved the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), issued its own Constitutional Declaration that effectively replaced the old constitution as amended.

    Some lawyers argue that this was in itself unconstitutional – labelling the declaration as more a series of executive orders than a constitution.

    The 20 judges on the country’s highest court, however, do not agree.

    The Supreme Constitutional Court based its recent controversial decisions purely on the SCAF document, with no reference whatsoever to the 1971 constitution. So much for the referendum.

    In finding part of the parliamentary election unconstitutional the court rendered invalid the choice exercised by some 30 million people at the polls. By endorsing the judgment in yet another executive order, the military has taken back the legislative authority it had previously handed over. So much for the parliamentary election.

    Based on these previous experiences it is understandable many Egyptians are less than convinced that their vote over these two days will result in a new leader with full executive powers.

    The series of electoral exercises since the revolution have resulted in an Egyptian civil society that has no greater rights than it had at the beginning of 2010.

    In fact the society has regressed.

    No matter how flawed the parliament under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak was, it nominally wielded legislative power.

    There is no such pretense now.

    The Supreme Council of Armed Forces holds full executive and legislative power- the judiciary that provides the third arm of these constitutional checks and balances has made clear it will base its decisions on a document drawn up by SCAF that can be altered by SCAF at will.

    Early predictions estimate the percentage poll will be in the high 20s or low 30s. That is less than the temperature here in degrees celsius.

    But, given all of the above, it is probably not just the heat that has dampened the joy in exercising what is tagged the democratic right to vote.


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