Think-tank polls youth on Egypt’s future in mock vote

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CAIRO: Sixty-seven percent opted for a civil state in a mock vote held Wednesday by an Egyptian think-tank aimed to assess where the country is heading.

International Center for Future and Strategic Studies (ICFS) invited dozens of youth to cast their votes and decide which political system they would like to see govern Egypt and which political trend they will vote for in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The event, titled "Your Opinion … Your Future," was held at Al-Azhar Park’s Genina Theater and moderated by the dynamic Director Ahmed El-Sayed.

The votes also showed that 45.8 percent preferred a parliamentary political system for Egypt, 24 percent voted for presidential and 29.4 percent voted for a combination of the two.

Twenty percent wanted a civil state with a religious background and 11.8 percent chose an Islamic state.

Total voters were 194 mostly from the youth.

For the next elections, 32 percent said they will vote for a liberal candidate, 7.8 percent preferred a leftist socialist while 15.7 percent wanted an Islamic candidate. However, the majority (41 percent) opted for an independent candidate.

The vote was followed by a discussion between a panel of experts and the voters, expressing concern about the next elections.

"The presidential system gives unlimited powers to the president and the best model is the mixed system combining both presidential and parliamentary," said Chancellor Hossam Mekawy, Head of South Cairo Appeals Court.

Preferring a civil state with a religious background, Judge Mekawy spoke about countries whose constitution stipulates that the king must be a Catholic or an Orthodox. "It doesn’t necessarily mean any discrimination against other religions," he explained.

But Amany Massoud, a political science professor, refused the concept itself. "A civil state is against any family, religion or tribe loyalties," she said, placing the blame on people who claim they are political experts.

Massoud added that the problem is not having a civil or an Islamic state but rather putting this into effect. "An Islamic state may grant religious freedom to non-Muslims while a civil state may limit these freedoms and violate them at certain points," she explained.

Panelists agreed that illiteracy is a major threat to “the Egypt we want to build” and stressed the need for launching awareness campaigns that reach every area in Egypt. They also agreed that the Egyptian youth have a difficult task and have to work hard so that the next parliament represents the modern Egypt.

One researcher among the audience was pessimistic about the future. "The society is not politically aware to choose a civil state or even an Islamic one. We are highly religiously influenced and March’s [constitutional] referendum is the best proof," Fatma El-Zahraa said, adding that she preferred postponing the elections because holding them now will be a huge setback.

Massoud concluded that “democracy is a lifestyle,” highlighting the fact that not every vote casting or poll reflects real results but that the majority’s opinion should be respected and accepted in a democracy.


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