The media has been having a field day over low voter turnout, but no one is going back to gauge the effectiveness of the presidential campaigns and the real reasons they have fallen flat.
by Noha Mohammed
In a few short days Egypt will have a new president ready to move into Ittihadiya Palace. But while on TV it appeared the nation was in the throes of election fever, certainly in the days leading up to the big vote, the polling stations on May 26 and 27 told a different story. That night after the polls closed, I watched in dismay as talk show hosts, analysts and strategists fretted over the disappointing turnout, trying to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Perhaps it was because it was a regular working day and people didn’t have time to cast their ballot on the first day of voting, they surmised. Perhaps it was because the 8 million people who live and work in governorates other than the ones they are registered at simply couldn’t pay the fare back home. Perhaps it was the fault of the media itself for its overblown campaigning rhetoric. Perhaps it was because the weather was too hot. I switched off the TV and went online to see what the newspaper headlines were saying. More of the same. On social media the boycotters were a bit more forthcoming about why they felt they could not take part in the electoral process, many expressing they felt the 2011 revolution had, once again, careened off track.
Our June issue, out next Sunday, looks back at the events leading up to the elections, from the campaign trails to the voting abroad and ending with the first day at the polls in Egypt. The road to Ittihadiya was certainly filled with lots of ups and downs, but for me there was one fatal mistake when it came to campaigning ― or lack of it, to be more precise. Where were the rallies and the debates to show how candidates really think and react? It’s unfortunate but true: Orchestrated interviews do not necessarily show candidates in their true light. And after so many false starts and dashed promises, the people really did need to know what they were signing up for.
Egypt Today, along with every other English-language media outlet, was not granted interviews with either presidential candidate, despite several attempts to reach their campaigns. We did, however, manage to get permission to translate excerpts from frontrunner Field Marshal Abdul Fattah El Sisi’s two-part interview with Akhbar Al Youm Chairman of the Board Yasser Rizk, which sheds some much-needed light on the former defense minister’s platform and proposed road map. Look forward to that on June 1 when the magazine hits the newsstands. Part II of that interview will appear exclusively on our website www.egypttoday.com.