Saturday,16 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1268, (29 October - 4 November 2015)
Saturday,16 December, 2017
Issue 1268, (29 October - 4 November 2015)

Ahram Weekly

More hype than substance?

While the media trumpeted the run-off election in the electoral district of Dokki and Agouza as a major event, voter turnout has been poor, reports Khaled Dawoud

More hype than substance?
More hype than substance?
Al-Ahram Weekly

Until Tuesday afternoon, polling stations in Dokki and Agouza were eerily empty. This was despite the media focus on the heated election battle between Amr Al-Shobaki and Ahmed Mortada Mansour.

As in the first round, only a handful of people, most of them women and the elderly, turned up to cast their ballots. Ashraf Abdel-Maged, the judge supervising the polling station in the Physiotherapy Faculty in Dokki, contended, however, that there was “a slightly higher proportion of younger people compared to the first round.”

Mortada, with 24,000 votes, polled second in Dokki and Agouza, after Abdel-Rehim Ali, one of only four candidates nationwide to win a first-round parliamentary seat after he received 45,000 votes.

With slightly more than 19,000 votes, Al-Shobaki came in third. Just 81,000 of the district’s 360,000 registered voters cast a ballot in the first round, a 23 per cent turnout.

Shobky, a researcher at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, won the seat in 2011 following a hard battle against Muslim Brotherhood leader Amr Darag. A supporter of the 25 January 2011 Revolution which removed Hosni Mubarak, Al-Shobaki is more a reformist than a radical. He argues that it is necessary to work within existing state institutions to promote democracy, social justice and the rule of law.

Following Mohamed Morsi’s ouster by the army in the wake of mass protests against his rule on 30 June 2013, Al-Shobaki laid his bets on then-defence minister, now president, Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi. He became an advisor to Sisi’s election campaign, arguing that Egypt desperately needed a president who could protect the state and its institutions.

Mansour views the 25 January Revolution in a completely opposite light. Like his father, Mortada Mansour, the controversial president of Zamalek Club and a parliamentarian under Mubarak, Mansour describes the uprising against Mubarak as a foreign financed “conspiracy” for which Egyptians have paid dearly for five years.

The view is not the only thing father and son share. Both have a penchant for attacking anyone who opposes their views in colourful, and even obscene, language. Mansour pere was one of the defendents in the Battle of the Camel case, accused of paying thugs to attack protestors in Tahrir Square on 2 February 2011. All defendants in the case were acquitted after the general prosecution failed to submit any compelling evidence.

It is no surprise that Mansour won the backing of Ali following his own first-round victory. Ali not only shares Mansour’s disparaging view of the protestors who brought down Mubarak, he used his own TV show to air secretly taped recordings of personal phone calls featuring the 25 January Revolution’s young leaders in an attempt to discredit them.

Both Ali and Mansour have launched scathing attacks on Al-Shobaki, claiming he enjoys the support of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, whose members intend to vote for him in the run-offs. In a talk show aired on Sada Al-Balad television channel, Ali accused Al-Shobaki of being “lightheaded, low and cheap” after he accused Ali of buying votes to secure his first-round victory.

“It would be a shame for the people of Agouza and Dokki if Al-Shobaki is elected,” Ali added. He later apologized after Al-Shobaki threatened a libel suit.

Al-Shobaki has accused both Ali and Mansour of exceeding the campaign spending limit of LE500,000 set by the Higher Election Commission. He estimates that each of his rivals spent more the LE4 million, and has implied that some of the money was used to buy votes. He has appealed to voters to support him to show that “people of integrity and principle can beat campaigns that aim to smear and distort.”

Mansour claims Al-Shobaki’s supporters are behind the leak of an embarrassing video of a campaign meeting with voters at a coffee shop in Agouza in which he uses coarse language.

“One of my biggest mistakes was to ever speak positively of the 25 January Revolution,” Mansour said in an interview aired on Sada Al-Balad.

“I apologise for this, and I apologise for the bad language I used in the video leaked by Al-Shobaki’s supporters. If I manage to win the seat I promise to control myself for the sake of the residents of Dokki and Agouza.”

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