Competition is fierce between the six finalists who are competing on Tuesday and Wednesday for the Ain Shams contituency’s three seats in the upcoming Egyptian parliament.
Last Wednesday, the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) announced six finalists, including the Free Egyptians Party’s Mohamed Al-Komy, businessman Youssry Naguib, Tharwat Bekhieet, Salah Ghobashi, teh Al-Wafd Party’s Waleed Abdel Aleem, and Mahmoud Al-Bangy.
Since announcing the finalists, candidates have concluded their campaigns by printing more flyers, organising more street conferences, and lobbying in cafes and outside mosques and churches.
On Tuesday morning, in the presence of Ministry of Interior officers and special forces stationed in front of polling stations, several voters began the electoral process in several schools. Voters said “a considerable segment of the youth is boycotting the elections”.
A judge in the Ibn Khaldoun School told Daily News Egypt that there are 48 polling stations in Ain Shams that are supposed to host voters. He added that “so far, the participating age group is above 45, and there is no sign of youth. They are only active as coordinators”.
Two of the finalists in the runoffs are Coptic Christians. Coordinators for different candidates told Daily News Egypt that strict policies are being carried out between the campaigns to eliminate any sectarian rhetoric in the electoral competition.
Sameh Zaki, one of the coordinators for the Al-Bangy family, said “despite having two Christians as finalists, the competition is based only on the performance and the popularity of the candidates, not religion”.
Zaki added that “members of the terrorist Brotherhood might capitalise on this point to spread chaos”.
Another coordinator said security officials are in contact with the candidates to make sure that the sectarian angle is not “exploited”.
A judge at the Moustafa Hafez School said he has the authority to call upon security forces to physically intervene if any violence based on sectarian grounds occurs inside or outside the polling stations. He added that he can cancel or suspend the voting process if any “disturbance takes place”.
Several voters who gathered outside the polling stations echoed the same point of view. Salem Elew, a 45-year-old carpenter, said: “How is someone’s religion going to help me prosper and have food on the table? I eat from what I gain each day.”