Young candidates struggle to establish themselves in Sohag

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SOHAG: Sohag’s youth are struggling to establish themselves in a political arena marked by tribalism as voters also opt for “more experienced” candidates to represent them in the upcoming parliament.


Young members of Sohag’s Youth Coalition and the April 6 Youth Movement have launched several campaigns to raise voters’ awareness and urge people to choose candidates based on their programs rather than “family affiliation” or religious ideology.

However, according to the candidates, these campaigns did little to help.

“There is no politics in this governorate,” said Ahmed Abdel Al, an individual candidate affiliated with the Revolution Continues Alliance. “The Muslims vote for the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) or the Salafi Al-Nour Party, the Copts vote for the Egyptian Bloc, while some others vote based on their tribes’ favorite,” he added.

Sohag witnessed a high voter turnout compared to previous years. Yet it remains low compared to other governorates in the elections’ second round, which young candidates attribute to weak social mobilization.

“People care about money and bread,” said Amin Hegazy, member of the Sohag Youth Coalition.

Candidates like Abdel Al are not only competing against the FJP and Al-Nour but Sohag is also home to many former National Democratic Party candidates like Hazem Hamadi.

“People tell me you are young so you still have time ahead of you and that is why they don’t vote for me,” said Abdel Al, who expects 20-30 percent of the vote in the first constituency.

On the other hand, Ahmed Ragheb, another member of the Sohag Youth Coalition, said voters are likely to opt for former NDP members.

“The voter is cleverer than me and you, they are practical thinkers,” he said. “They see that those ‘felool’ [remnants of the old regime] have been supporting them while the revolutionary youth like us did not help them or eradicate poverty,” he said.

A 60-year-old voter who preferred to remain anonymous criticized the young candidates.

“These young people should go back home and wait until things get better in the country. It is unfair what they are doing to us,” she said.

“I voted for the FJP because I think they care more about the country than the young people and are more aware,” said Om Taha, who herself is in her early 20s.

Abdel Al said he is running in the elections because he didn’t expect people’s mentalities to change post Jan. 25.

“Sohag residents are directed and no power will change this. Even we, the revolutionary youth political parties, talk incessantly about the revolution but we allow ex-members of the NDP to penetrate our parties in order to get more votes since they have the experience,” said Abdel Al.

Other members of the youth coalition said that there is a lack of political will among political parties to bring about change.

“We [youth] were able to come together and create a vision for this governorate, while all political parties did not. They never participated in any of our demonstrations here in Sohag nor did they help people,” said Hegazy.

According to Hegazy, the youth coalition has been demonstrating against the ruling military council since July but has garnered little support.

“What more can we do? We are few in numbers and people are not willing to change,” Ragheb said.

Although Abdel Al is not optimistic about winning, he was determined to continue the struggle for recognition.

“Our fight is yet to begin,” he said.


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