Prepping for round two

Liliana Mihaila
4 Min Read
Egyptians gear up for the final phase of the constitutional referendum. (DNE/ Hassan Ibrahim)
Egyptians gear up for the final phase of the constitutional referendum. (DNE/ Hassan Ibrahim)

Politicians are taking off on whirlwind tours of 17 governorates to speak with Egyptians ahead of Saturday’s vote. As Egypt braces for the second and final phase of referendum voting, political parties are trying to reach out to as many people in as many ways as possible.

“We have to market the constitution,” said Abdul Muti Zaki, who is the executive manager of the Giza office for the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

“We are working on the streets with the public, we have to inform all the people about the advantages of the constitution and how life will be better with the constitution,” said Zaki who added that the FJP was focusing their conversations with citizens on the rights the document will ensure and benefits such as heath and access to education.

Zaki sees the second round of voting as a chance to bounce back from what he said was a weak showing in round one. “The first round we didn’t have much popularity, especially in Cairo and in the west. But for the second round we believe the result will be better.”

One way the FJP aims to secure this result is by what Zaki called “street cinemas.” They are simple films that are shown all around Egypt in the governorates preparing to vote. The films explain aspects of the constitution and point out positive benefits of passages such as expedited elections and a functioning parliament.

Zaki also took aim at his party’s rivals in the National Salvation Front (NSF) saying they are “only opposing in the media, not in the street.”

Ahmed Al-Hawary of the NSF’s Al-Dostour Party countered that NSF members have been on tours of the governorates, taking the conversation into the very streets Zaki said they are absent from.

The NSF has been circling the governorates to give “popular conferences,” with politicians such as political thinker Amr Hamzawy, founder of the Kefaya movement George Ishaq, and founder of Egyptian Women for Change Gameela Ismail.

“It’s in the streets,” said Al-Hawary of the popular conferences, “we try to lobby, with five thousand people or so listening. We are trying our best to spread the message of why to vote ‘No’.”

Khaled Al-Senini, a political activist in Matruh governorate, said the major parties are not the only ones campaigning. He said the 6 April Youth Movement had been going door to door to explain why voting “No” is part of the revolution, while on Wednesday night the Salafi groups in the area had just begun giving public speeches on why Egyptian’s should vote “Yes.”

Saturday’s second round of voting will take place in Beheira, Beni Suef, Domietta, Fayoum, Giza, Ismailia, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Luxor, Matruh, Menufiya, Minya, New Valley, Port Said, Qaliubiya, Qena, Suez, and Red Sea.

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