round of the Egyptian parliamentary elections started up on the 14th
of December 2011, in other 9 governorates: Giza, Sharqiya, Ismailia, Suez, Menoufia, Bany Suif, Behera, Souhag, and Aswan. 10, 922 judges were eligible to supervise the elections, in addition to other 2000 standing by. The number of the citizens having the right to vote in this round was 18, 826, 394, who have voted to choose 60 candidates out of 2241 run for the individual seats, and 120 out of 1429 run for the lists.
Although the 2nd round has seemed to be quieter than the 1st one, due to the absence of the most active and competitive governorates existed in the 1st round, except for Giza, it was a great challenge for the whole parties of the electoral process. It was a challenge for the Egyptian security system, which needed to prove its ability to impose discipline, when decided. Was a challenge for the “Supreme Commission on Elections” SCE, as to avoid the mistakes and errors took place during the 1st round and keep on its pros. It was also a challenge for the ruling system itself, to prove its insistency to hold pure and fair elections, away from 2005 elections’ paradigm. And for the civil society, media & whoever is observing the elections, for having great responsibility of keeping up monitoring and documenting the electoral process, being ready to reveal any reality, whatever how ugliness it is.
“The turnout in the 2nd phase doesn’t exceed the borders of the 30%” said Hafez Abu Seada, the Chairman of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), adding “the most obvious & weird positivity, is the capability of the security forces, the police & the military, to maintain discipline and security for a long period of time, and in a very crucial time, while not being able to do that in normal circumstances”.
“The Egyptian Coalition for Monitoring Elections” ECME, consists of 123 NGOs from all over Egypt, including EOHR, which monitors the parliamentary elections of 2011-2012, has decided to issue, for the 1st time, statistical report, to support the analyzing of the Egyptian electoral process in a systematic and scientific way. Statistical reports have always helped in supporting the general verdicts and conclusions, not depending much on the individual events, could give general indications and oversights. Considering that, the Coalition has distributed four kinds of electoral forms over Coalition’s observers; the 1st is the “opening form”, contains questions about the commitment of the electoral committee to the legal procedures of the opening process, according to the Egyptian law, the 2nd is the “Voting Form”, concerned with questioning the legality of conducting the voting process, the 3rd is the “Closing Form”, the researchers in EOHR could design the Closing form to suit the Egyptian style and laws, and finally the “Counting Form”. Below, the results of the monitoring are mentioned.
In this stage, we tried to ask questions about the commitment of the SCE & the sub-committees to the rules and laws organizing the opening process.
The same defect of opening the polling stations after the officially supposed time was one of the most obvious defects in the 1st round, and still it is in the 2nd. The indicators here show that the polling stations did open after the official time of the opening in 34% of the polling stations, and although it is lesser percentage than that of the 1st phase, still it is a significant defect, and could have been avoided in the 2nd phase.
In 51% of the polling stations, the observers of ECME could monitor the existence of electioneering inside polling stations, during the start up of the polls. In Al Sharqyia, the case was much worse, the percentage there reached to 67%.
In 18% of the polling stations, there were unauthorized persons inside the polling stations during the opening process. The violence events can’t find an end also, where the observers could witness the existence of violence, during the opening process, in 24% of the polling stations subjected to statistics. The case was much complicated in Suez, where the percentage of violence in polling stations reached to 48%, which is a very significant and high percentage.
Aside from the negatives, mentioned above, we shall mention also that our observers could have an access to the polling stations during the opening process in 97% of the polling stations. Also In 97%, none of the electoral tools (the phosphoric ink, the ballot cards, voters list, ballot boxes), were missed, and in 95% of the sample, the judge and the administrative officials were existing during the opening process.
In spite of having effective and repeated cons, the opening of the 2nd round has witnessed the appearance of a number of positive phenomenon, which shall, in the future, prevent any violations concerning those rights; as the right of the observers and the candidate’s agents to enter to the polling stations during the opening process, this right wasn’t really applicable in the past anyway.
The voting process is one of the important stages in the elections, which usually witnesses many violations, due to its competitive nature, in an election which doesn’t adhere to the rule of the prescribed “Silence Period”. The voting process, in the 2nd phase of the Egyptian parliamentary elections, took place in 2 days: 14&15 December, in each day the voting process lasted from 8 am to 9 pm, virtually it is a very long period, causing the incrimination of the violations’ rate, and affected the ability of the officials to manage the process fairly and without huge or significant irregularities. The elongation of the voting process, to last for 2 days, has been one of the most significant mistakes affected the ability and the power of whoever responsible for the electoral commissions, to handle their job properly.
According to the tally, 37% of the voters didn’t cast their votes secretly, behind curtains; the percentage was much higher in Suez, reached to 44%. A number of these cases are illiterate citizens, who need the help of the judge to show them where to vote, others are subjected to random and non organized voting process. Anyway, in both cases, the voter could have been subjected to influence. The same could be applied to the group voting question, which has been monitored in 48% of the sample, the results in Aswan alone was 49%. Both numbers: 37% & 48% are the answers of 2 effective questions and even high enough to make the elections results questioned.
The results weren’t much better concerning “collective transportation”, where it was reported that there was collective (group) transportation for voters, to vote in favor of definite candidate, in 28% of the monitored polling stations, in Aswan only the percentage was 38% of the tested polling stations. The alarm here, is that massive number of the Egyptian voters are poor, significant number of them went to vote, due to their fear of being imposed to pay the prescribed fine, so on finding a free transportation, they wouldn’t have a problem to vote for the party or the candidate saved their money. The same influence over voters took place, outside polling stations excessively, by the candidates’ supporters; the issue exceeded the limit of electioneering, which was a catastrophe, reached to 82% of the sample, and extended to directing the voters. 55% was reported as the percentage of the polling stations witnessed directing voters.
One of the common irregularities is the non systematic usage of the phosphoric inks inside polling stations. The procedure of dipping voter’s finger into the phosphoric ink after voting is one of the important steps helping in limiting rigging, but unfortunately it is not applied in a systematic way inside Egyptian polling stations. 29% of the tested samples have been reported of being non compliance to the above mentioned procedure.
Similar to what have been mentioned in the opening process, 27% of the sample was reported to give an access to the polling stations to unauthorized people, which ensures the chaos and the inability of the sub-committees to organize the election process. Although that the electoral committees were permitting unauthorized people to enter to the polling stations, on the contrary, it was hindering the access of the voters themselves to vote in 44% of the monitored polling stations in Suez.
In spite of the last mentioned cons, numbers of positives have been achieved, where in 99% of the monitored polling stations, the authorized observers and the candidates’ agents could have an access to the polling stations without facing any obstacles. In the past that was a great problem for whoever wants to monitor the elections, except for the supporters of the former NDP. Not only did the former election’s officials hinder the authorized people to have an access to the polling stations, but also the thugs in charge. Also in 94% of the sample, the ballot cards were found stamped, and in 92%, the electoral committee officials were checking and matching the voters IDs.
The closing stage was the much peaceful and committed to the procedures. That’s the case always with the closing, especially if the elections were run in 2 days, and the turnout in the 2nd day was very low.
During the closing process, 95% of the authorized observers and candidates’ agents were allowed to have an access to the polling stations, which increases the credibility of the closing process. While in 34% of the tested sample, the voters, who arrived just before the closing time, couldn’t have an access to the polling stations. This is a common and repeated error in most of the polling stations, and even in most of the former or later elections, where most of the electoral committees, aren’t so committed to the official closing date.
In 84% of the monitored polling stations, the electoral committee did open closure minutes. This is a very crucial step in the closure; it is the official registration for the closure of the polling station, and an announcement for the inability of any one to cast his vote. But that wasn’t the case in other 12% of the tested sample, where the observers didn’t monitor the opening of the closure minutes.
The counting process was the worst; many violations took place during the counting time, in spite of being the most significant stage in the whole process. The Coalition observers have monitored the existence of violence & intimidation in 44% of the monitored polling stations, the percentage is huge, especially in this important process of elections, and could be presumption against the whole process. In 37% of the tested sample, un-authorized people were allowed to exist into the polling stations during the counting. Allowing un-authorized people to attend the counting process is much like a disaster, shows the in-ability of the members of the sub-committees to control the counting, or even their agreement on the violation, that’s much worse.
The law gives the members of the subcommittees the right to show their objection to the results of the counting, which was the case in 37% of the sample. The percentage indicates the chaos and non discipline took place, as well as the incremental possibilities of rigging and changing results in the counting process, especially on knowing the presence of a lot of complaints against the stuff accompanying the heads of the sub-committees, accusing them of manipulating the election’s results.
The scene in Al Sharqiya was the worst, according to the chairman of the Judges’ club, Chancellor “Ahmed El Zend”, 600 of the heads of sub committees judges were beaten and subjected to electric shock by military soldiers. In 66% of the tested sample, our observers couldn’t have n access to the polling stations, during the counting. Thus, the decision of the Administrative Court to cancel the elections for the individuals and lists in Al Sharqiya, wasn’t a surprise.
Most of the errors, which have been detected in the 1st round, appear now again the 2nd round of the polling, seem to be non avoidable. Which makes it very obvious to ask, if the SCE could really take over its job properly.
The closing process was the best, always seems to be quiet and more discipline, both the opening and the voting could be evaluated as “pass”, both of them have witnessed the same violations of the 1st phase, from influencing voters outside and inside polling stations by the candidate’s supporters, who have played great role in directing voters, taking advantage of the low awareness of the voters. Also the procedural error of the late opening of the polling stations has been repeated in the 2nd round, although being detected and the head of the SCE himself has promised to avoid in the 2st round, but in vain.
The counting was a catastrophe, the counting stage is the most critical, and it was the reason for the invalidity of “Al Sahel” constituency in the 1st round, many have expected a better attitude in the 2nd round, but it was worse. The worst governorate was Al Sharqiya, where the military soldiers did hit 600 judges, according to the head of the Judges’ Club, trying to prevent them from accompanying the ballot boxes. In addition to many other clashes and violence events, the access of un-authorized people to the counting yards was detected also. Considering what have been mentioned above, the whole elections could be subjected to invalidity, due to the grave irregularities in counting process.
The SCE is neither trained nor experienced in conducting the election process, and has committed many mistakes led to a lot of errors. This will lead to grave consequences, which will affect the validity and the legitimacy of the elections. According to the law the SCE & the sub-committees has the police power at their disposal; they could order them in a limit of 30 meters around the polling stations, the power which has never been used in controlling violations.
“An independent entity for elections shall be founded, through being directly elected by the parliament in the future, as in India” said Hafez Abu Seada. The voting process, in the 1st & 2nd rounds of this election, was much better than the semi elections was taking place during Mubarak’s era, it is a step forward, but still witnessing a lot of irregularities, which show that we are still in our first step to democracy. Knowing that we all are in experience and trial period, could be an excuse, but not for a long time, especially if the irregularities are detected, known and could be avoided.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 at 10:53 am
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