April 17, 2014

Runoff results: A reading

A mother carries her child as she votes in Gamal Abdel Nasser School polling station in Giza.

BY AMIRA SALAH-AHMED

Cairo: It’s a close race. Preliminary results show Mohamed Morsi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, winning by 4 percent.

Well, at least according to his campaign, which has so far held two press conferences announcing almost identical results, the first complete with a mini victory speech at 4 am on Monday.

Morsi reportedly won 52 percent of the vote, while 48 percent went to his contender Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister under ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his longtime civil aviation minister.

Their preliminary results show that Morsi won a total 13,238,298 votes while Shafik garnered 12,351,184 — a difference of 887,114.

However, Shafik’s campaign has repeatedly claimed that he is in fact the winner, but by a smaller margin. They say the Morsi campaign, trigger-happy with its early celebrations, should wait until the Presidential Election Committee announces the final results on Thursday. Still, they beamed with confidence at a Tuesday conference, saying they’re sure Shafik is the next president.

Also on Tuesday, Morsi’s campaign said that 140 appeals were filed, 100 of which were accepted, and that final results will be out Thursday. But instead of waiting, they’ve repeatedly claimed the presidency — obviously under the impression that the appeals would come out in their favor and increase their margin of victory.

Now investigations looking into alleged ballot rigging may mean that around 1 million votes are discounted, which means it’s anyone’s game.

With such a close race, it seems odd to light the fireworks (Morsi supporters celebrated loudly in Tahrir on Monday evening and again Tuesday night) since any slight change can swing the results either way.

Amid a tensely polarized political sphere, most votes were not for one candidate, but against the other, with the boycotters and those who chose to invalidate their vote, objecting to what they see as continuing military rule regardless of the outcome. As vote counting got underway in the runoff, the ruling military council issued an addendum to the interim constitution, broadening its powers, just days after a court ruling effectively dissolved the People’s Assembly.

Luring round one voters

Unlike the more optimistic round one, with the presence of some perceivably “revolutionary” candidates in the running, the runoff was marked by a sense of dejection and sharply divided public opinion. The big question was which camp the voters who supported Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh and Hamdeen Sabahi be more comfortable in come round two? Morsi and Shafik, the two remaining candidates, were mainly portrayed as “power hungry Islamist” and “former regime remnant,” respectively.

Generally, the Sabahi voters were the most unpredictable, splintering off into the camps of Morsi, Shafik and the boycotters or those who spoilt their ballots.

The three main provinces were split, with Alexandria and Giza going to Morsi (he won Giza in the first round) and Cairo picking Shafik. In round one, Sabahi overtook the other 12 candidates in both Alexandria (dubbed the “revolutionary province”) and Cairo. It would have been tough for Shafik to win Alexandria, with his “remnant” status.

It’s hard to tell what swayed Cairo voters, 55.6 percent of which chose Shafik. The majority voting for Sabahi the first time around were a mixed bag of revolutionaries, liberals, secular-leaning activists, moderate Islamists who were turned off by Abol Fotoh as the election neared, and so on. It’s only understandable that in the divisive round two, his supporters would go in different directions.

Nada Iskandar, 36, voted for Sabahi, and then chose Shafik in round two. “I voted Hamdeen in round one because he was the only secular, revolution-friendly candidate with a chance. I called it ‘diagnosis by exclusion’ using my medical terminology,” said the doctor.

“As for round two, I voted Shafik simply to prevent religious fascism. I’d rather have my military rule pure-breed than hybrid with Islamist fascism. I would’ve never thought I’d share in reproducing the old regime but I had no choice,” she added.

In Cairo, the call for boycotting resounded the most and, according to information released by the Morsi campaign supposedly directly from polling stations, Cairo saw the highest number of void ballots. It’s safe to assume that those who intentionally voided their votes were more defiant toward Shafik, but still less inclined to give Morsi the revolutionary vote.

Egypt overall, according to these results, saw 830,558 void ballots, and Cairo specifically 148,000. The revolutionary choice to void ballots means that said voters would definitely not have chosen Shafik, and could have been inclined to go for Morsi but elected not to. That meant less Morsi votes in the capital.

Shafik took a majority of the Coptic vote in both rounds, with some reports that the Church was swaying the community towards the “secular” candidate. Evan Hill of Al Jazeera English, who obtained a copy of the Morsi campaign’s results book, reported on Twitter that “Shafik’s biggest margin in Cairo was heavily Christian Shobra. 78 [percent].”

Shafik seemed to maintain his grasp on the provinces he won in the first round, drawing on the Delta as his biggest support base, and taking the majority of votes in South Sinai, which largely chose Amr Moussa in round one of the election. Moussa, who served as Arab League secretary general, was also labeled by some as a remnant of the former regime, so in some ways he fits in the same category as Shafik. However, Moussa was seen as the softer “felool” choice, for not having been as deeply entrenched with the Mubarak regime, at least not precisely during the uprising, as opposed to Shafik.

Overall, Morsi won 17 provinces plus most of the votes from Egyptians living abroad (74.9 percent), while Shafik took 10.

Predictably, Morsi did well in the two provinces that in the first round chose Abol Fotoh, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood who ran on a moderate Islamist platform. Abol Fotoh was viewed as leaning more Islamist than moderate as the first round of the election neared, to which some attribute his coming in fourth place after being a front runner in the race for months.

Ultimately, Morsi falls in the same category as Abol Fotoh, which explains voters’ decision in Damietta and Matrouh to pick him by a majority 56.0 percent and 80.3 percent, respectively.

The runoff saw both candidates winning each province with a small margin, one even as little as 0.3 percent. At the other end of that scale, Matrouh recorded the widest margin, followed by Fayoum, where Morsi also won, with 77.8 percent of the vote. Seen as having a strong Islamist base, Morsi took Fayoum in round one.

The third widest margin was Menuifya, with the highest overall turnout nationwide, which went to Shafik who raked in 71.5 percent of the vote. It was an unsurprising result as Menufiya is the birthplace of Mubarak and some of his top aides, and a hotbed of National Democratic Party (NDP) affiliates. In the first round, Shafik won over 50 percent in the province, his highest rate nationwide.

Sharqiya, traditionally dominated by the MB, broke from tradition in round one by voting Shafik and did the same in round two.

In round one Sabahi’s hometown of Kafr El-Sheikh gave him 62 percent of the vote — the biggest percentage for any candidate nationwide — and in round two, brought Morsi to the top by 55 percent.

On the other hand, in Port Said and the Red Sea which Sabahi won in the first round swung towards Shafik in round two, the latter effected by the tourism sector in the region wary of the policies of an Islamist president.

Even before the final results are announced, the small margin means that the leanings of the various provinces will largely remain unchanged, with the surprise coming in from an unexpected annulling of some ballots or a miscount in a major district.

In some ways, it’s still too early to call, even as both sides claim victory. –The Egypt Monocle.

 

Runoff

Morsi

Runoff

Shafik

Round One

Winner

Aswan

63.7%

Morsi         23.62%

Alexandria

57.6%

Sabahi        33.32%

Ismailia

54.3%

Morsi         26.36%

Assiut

61.5%

Morsi         30.95%

Luxor

53.0%

Shafik         23.19%

Red Sea

50.6%

Sabahi        24.04%

Beheira

58.7%

Morsi         28.73%

Giza

59.7%

Morsi         27.38%

Cairo

55.6%

Sabahi        27.97%

Daqahliya

55.6%

Shafik         24.85%

Suez

62.7%

Morsi         23.96%

Sharqiya

54.3%

Shafik         37.39%

Gharbiya

63.0%

Shafik         32.67%

Fayoum

77.8%

Morsi         47.12%

Qaliubiya

58.3%

Shafik         29.81%

Menuifya

71.5%

Shafik         52.56%

Minya

64.5%

Morsi         42.21%

El-Wadi El-Gedid

63.7%

Morsi         28.65%

Beni Suef

66.5%

Morsi         41.80%

Port Said

54.3%

Sabahi       40.44%

South Sinai

50.3%

Moussa       28.70%

Damietta

56.0%

Abol Fotoh  23.82%

Sohag

58.2%

Morsi         38.52%

North Sinai

61.5%

Morsi         37.24%

Qena

56.0%

Morsi         25.16%

Kafr El-Sheikh

55.4%

Sabahi      62.10%

Matrouh

80.3%

Abol Fotoh 46.16%

*Egyptians abroad: Morsi 74.9%


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