Egyptian Referendum voting patterns reveal changing political map, dwindling faith in process

Analysis, posted 01.04.2013, from Egypt, in:
Egyptian Referendum voting patterns reveal changing political map, dwindling faith in process (Photo: Al-Masry Al-Youm)

The results of this month’s constitutional referendum may reveal an important shift in the country’s political map, as well as a general loss of trust and interest in the political process, observers say.

Beyond a vote on the draft constitution, the referendum also represented a vote on Muslim Brotherhood rule in general, analysts argue. The Constituent Assembly that drafted the newly adopted constitution was dominated by Brotherhood and Salafi figures.

The results of this referendum would normally be compared to those of the March referendum on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ constitutional declaration, says Mazen Hassan, a professor of electoral systems at Cairo University. In March 2011, 78 percent of voters approved the constitutional amendments.

“But everything in Egypt is working abnormally. The March referendum is a special case where general political optimism was very high. The voting decisions were purely based on optimism, not on real awareness of the existing political elites and their performance,” he says.

Hassan argues that in the recent referendum, voters were able to obtain more solid knowledge about the different political actors, and acted accordingly.

“That’s why it makes more sense to compare the referendum results to the results of the presidential election, especially the runoff,” he adds.

Hanan Girguis, head of the operations committee at the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research (Baseera) agrees. The March referendum results are too old to compare to the recent referendum results, he says.

“A lot of changes occurred in the span of two years ... [and] the March referendum was a vote on the legitimacy of the military council more than a vote on some constitutional articles,” she explains.

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By Mai Shams El-Din

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