Egypt’s boycott sector finds itself pressured to vote
An Egyptian man puts his vote in ballot box - REUTERS/Majed Jaber
By AMIRA EL-FEKKI

CAIRO: While the camps in support of either presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi or Abdel Fatah al-Sisi are resolute, the sector of voters who have announced their rejection of the voting process by boycotting are now being pressured to change their minds and vote.

Many have stated they are boycotting the elections in protest and due to concerns over the transparency of elections. The boycott campaign has an active page on Facebook, with more than 400,000 fans, and most of its posts mocking Sisi. A majority of those who have publicly stated their intention to boycott the presidential elections are young revolutionaries and political activists who believe the military-backed Sisi will have control over the elections, and dismiss it as a charade.

But such boycotters are now finding themselves pressured to vote, as political parties and social forces are calling for their participation. In response to criticism, the boycott campaign responded on Facebook that boycotting elections does not reflect passivity but rather a “revolutionary political stance,” Al-Mesryoon website reported on Saturday.

Outside of the boycott campaign, many Egyptians are finding themselves again inclined to vote for a candidate defensively, so that the lesser-favored candidate does not win, a conundrum reminiscent of the last presidential elections, between the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, former President Hosni Mubarak’s prime minister. Such voters are complaining of always being left to choose between “the best of the worst.”

Now, some boycotting movements are reconsidering their position. Al-Mesryoon reported on Sunday that some revolutionary youth forces such as the “January 25 Movement” have decided to support Sabbahi.

One of the major forces with a “no to military rule” ideology, the April 6 Youth Movement has announced that despite its strong opposition to Sisi, it will leave “the freedom of choice to its members who will either boycott elections or support Sabbahi,” April 6 member Sherif El Ruby told The Cairo Post on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Sabbahi’s daughter in April launched a campaign on Twitter under the hashtag, “Boycotting is not a solution.” The campaign has been advocating the idea that boycotting may result in votes favoring one of the candidates without being an actual representation of the people’s will.

“If you think election results are already decided without forgery, a big part of the responsibility would be your boycott, and if you think that there will be forgery, then the only way to stop it is with your participation and monitoring,” tweeted Basma Amal with the anti-boycott hash tag.

Sisi’s campaign has also organized activities and communicated the importance of political engagement, and it reports that it has been successful in changing some opinions.

“We are not particularly interested in convincing citizens to vote for our candidate, but we are keen on encouraging people to vote because we believe that increasing participation during these elections is extremely important during this phase in Egypt,” Karim el-Saka, a member of the political bureau of Sisi’s campaign told The Cairo Post.

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