Despite the relatively low turnout in the 2014 Egyptian presidential election between General Al-Sissi and Hamdeen Sabahi, the results were a huge defeat for the Muslim Brotherhood and its claim that political Islam — and the supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi — represent the major political force in the country.
The preliminary results show a turnout of around 46 percent of the eligible voters, despite the boycott by the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi supporters. If this number is compared to the very heated Egyptian presidential race in 2012 between Morsi and Shafik, which attracted around 51 percent of the eligible voters, it will be obvious that the total effect of the Muslim Brotherhood boycott has only resulted in a decline from 51 percent to 46 percent in voter participation.
This small (5 percent) decline has exposed the true impact of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi faction, and it is remarkably unimpressive.
If the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi supporters actually represent a majority of the Egyptian population — as they typically claim — one would have expected the boycott to drastically reduce turnout in this election. It just didn’t happen. The assumption that most nonvoters in 2014 presidential elections were supporters of Morsi has no sufficient evidence to support it.
As it happens, there were several factors, besides the boycott, that likely contributed to this small decline in voters’ turnout at this election.
One of these factors is the simple fact that none of the candidates this time around made huge promises of major financial windfalls, in contrast to Morsi’s assurance that he would bring $200 billion into the Egyptian coffers if elected in 2012.
Similarly, in 2012 many have observed that the Muslim Brotherhood actually bribed some poor Egyptians with food and money in exchange for their votes. The candidates in this election managed to refrain from such blatant corruption.
In 2012 the Islamists also used religion in a way to direct the voting such factor did not play any significant rol in the 2014 elections.
Too, some Egyptians probably were not much encouraged to participate in the election process as their former votes in previous elections since Jan 25 Revolution had no positive impact on their standard of living. This possibly worked as a negative reinforcement factor and discouraged some eligible voters from participating in the election process.
Another factor that likely played a major role in the reported 5 percent decline in voter turnout was the confidence of many Gen. Al-Sissi supporters that his victory was certain.
The recent results of the Egyptian elections overseas, in which Al-Sissi won more than 90 percent of the votes, no doubt added to the perception of inevitability. To understand the effect of perceived certainty on Egyptian elections, one need only note that just 7 percent of Egyptians showed up to choose their representatives in the Shura Council (the higher parliamentary body, similar to the U.S. Senate) because the victory of political Islam was inevitable as almost all the candidates were Islamists.
Another possible contributing factor to lower voter turnout may be the fact that some young people and youth movement, unlike in the 2012 elections, decided to boycott this one.
Finally, the threat of terrorist attacks on voters promulgated by some pro-Morsi radical Islamists (as has become typical of the election process in Iraq and Afghanistan) may have deterred some, if not many, Egyptians from showing up to vote. In this context, it is fair to say that the Egyptian security apparatus showed high level of competence and professionalism and protected the election process from such attacks.
In brief, if we assumed (incorrectly) that the Muslim Brotherhood boycott of this election was the ONLY factor that caused a decline in voter turnout (from 51 percent of eligible voters in 2012 down to 46 percent in 2014); and if we (also wrongly) excluded all the above-mentioned factors from our reckoning; still the total impact of the Muslim Brotherhood boycott on the elections caused a mere 5 percent decline in voter turnout.
If we take these other factors into account, the impact of the Muslim Brotherhood boycott looks dismal indeed, exposing the truth that the Muslim Brotherhood currently has very little influence on the Egyptian street. It also belies their claim that the June 30 revolution was a coup that was not supported by most Egyptians.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam." Read more reports from Tawfik Hamid — Click Here Now.
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