Human rights organization launches election website
Egyptian human rights
By SALLIE PISCH

CAIRO: An Egyptian human rights group has launched a website to help Egyptian voters learn about political parties’ platforms and decide which party most closely matches their personal views.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information launched the platform, ‘egypt.electionnaire.com,’ which offers information in both Arabic and English.

The website asks users 29 questions ranging from whether women and Christians have the right to be president of Egypt to whether a maximum salary should be imposed on private sector employees.

The website then gives users a list of how closely their responses match the official party platforms of the 31 most prominent parties on the Egyptian political scene.

“The idea is amazing,” 20-year-old management student Nadim Salem told Youm7 after trying the site. “It is very informative, and the first time you see all this information gathered in one place,” he added.

Hatem Ghaleb, a young Egyptian currently working in Germany, said the site will “definitely” get Egyptians more involved and “excited about their political views.”

However, he was somewhat critical of the content of the questions. He said some questions were “broader than the debates on the ‘political scene’, since these debates sometimes boil down to ‘are you with religious law or against religious law.’”

Ghaleb also said the questions did not cover enough regarding economic policy, which he considers the most important issue for the next parliament and government.

The questionnaire did, however, match him with the party he most supports.

Salem, on the other hand, was surprised to discover his results, which matched him closer to the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party than the Free Egyptians Party, founded by Coptic Christian telecom tycoon naguib sawiris.

“I am surprised because I am against any religious parties that bring religion into politics,” he said, adding that he thinks the discrepancy could be explained because almost all parties are “putting on their liberal coats.”

The site also allows users to compare their answers to the partys’ positions, allowing them to see where they agree and where they disagree.

Ahmed Adel Khalil, 22, who is undecided over who to vote for in upcoming elections, said his results were more or less what he expected. However, he said that while the questionnaire can help Egyptians “direct their thoughts,” they “cannot only depend on this result.”

“Electionnaire Egypt will not constrain any of the voters’ options,” said ANHRI in an article posted on its website. “In fact, it will encourage discussions on political education in Egypt and will stimulate public debates. This project will help in filling the information gap regarding the general elections, which will be free for the first time.”

The project, launched yesterday in coordination with German organization Media in Cooperation and Transition, has come out ahead of Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections.

The first of three rounds of elections for the People’s Assembly, the lower house of Egypt’s bicameral parliament, are slated to begin November 28. It will be the first election since a popular uprising ousted Egypt’s three-decade dictator and his regime earlier this year.

The topics covered by the online questionnaire also include the right to change religion, whether civilians should be tried before military courts, the right to strike, the right to civil marriage, relations with Israel, and foreign funding of civil society organizations.

In addition, the site outlines the profiles of the 31 political parties included in its platform. It also provides an overview of each of the issues pertaining to the 29 questions in its survey, including the relevant laws or articles the questions are based on, where applicable, and prevalent opinions for and against each topic.

 

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