CAIRO: Nearly 40 percent of Egyptian voters are undecided less than six weeks before the first presidential election since the ouster of veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak, a poll published on Saturday found.
A full 38 percent of respondents said they had yet to make up their minds which of the 23 candidates to vote for in the May 23-24 first round, the poll published by the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Yom found.
Ten of these 23 hopefuls were later disqualified by the Presidential Election Committee. Deadline for appeals is Monday.
Among the 62 percent who had decided, 20.1 percent said they would vote for Mubarak’s long-time intelligence chief Omar Suleiman who briefly served as vice president before the president’s overthrow in February last year.
Suleiman was followed by former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh with 12.4 percent and Salafi candidate Hazem Abu Ismail with 11.7 percent.
Former Arab League chief and Mubarak-era foreign minister Amr Moussa trailed with 6.4 percent, followed by the Brotherhood’s official candidate Khairat Al-Shater with 3.2 percent.
Suleiman, Abu Ismail and Al-Shater were among those disqualified.
The poll was carried out on April 10 by the Egyptian Institute for Public Opinion Research (Bassira) among a sample of 2,034 people aged 18 and over.
Respondents were asked: “Who would you vote for if the election were held tomorrow?”
A poll conducted earlier this month by Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies showed that 45 percent of those who voted for the Brotherhood in parliamentary elections won’t vote for it again in a new election.
The poll, which is conducted weekly, was carried out between the end of March and beginning of April with a 4 percent margin of error. About 47.9 percent of the 1,200 polled face-to-face thought Al-Shater’s decision to run was wrong, compared to 13.7 percent who supported it.
The same poll this week showed support for Suleiman jump from 8.2 percent to more than 31 percent over the past week after he announced his candidacy.
Al-Shater made a small gain from less than 2 percent to 4.7 percent support.
Gamal Abdel-Gawad, a political science professor at the American University in Cairo who oversees the weekly poll, said the withdrawal of the Islamist candidates and Suleiman has strengthened the chances of former regime officials such as Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister.
“I think the Brotherhood has now realized the dangers of nominating Al-Shater. They probably are realizing that his chances were not that big. So they are maybe counting their blessings. They will probably now focus on restoring some trust and building bridges with the other political forces,” said Abdel-Gawad.
Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament on Thursday approved a bill that would ban members of Mubarak’s regime from standing for public office, but it needs the support of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to become law.