Prime Minister Ismail Sherif said Monday that 15 or 16 percent of eligible voters had turned out for the first day of voting the previous day, the state news agency reported. But he did not cite the source of his estimate and the election commission did not disclose its figures.
Several polling places in the populous areas near Cairo were almost completely empty, except for a handful of elderly voters. Almost every news account indicated a dearth of voters elsewhere as well.
Alarmed by the low turnout on Sunday, Mr. Sherif gave public employees a half-day holiday on Monday to encourage more voting. The governor of Alexandria dropped the fares for public transportation. Pro-government talk show hosts hectored their audiences to get out and vote.
Other Egyptians, however, traded jokes about the turnout. “I need to sit alone for a while,” many repeated on Facebook. “I am going to a polling station.”
“No one went today either” was trending on Twitter.
The low turnout recalled elections for the rubber-stamp parliaments under Mr. Mubarak, although Mr. Mubarak had in fact allowed more competition. In his later years in power, Mr. Mubarak had permitted the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s mainstream Islamist movement and the largest opposition group, to win as many as 20 percent of the seats in the Parliament. Then a ruling party sweep eliminated the Brotherhood from Parliament completely in 2010, raising widespread allegations of rigging and setting the stage for the uprising a few months later.The United States is pretty much in the same situation as Sisi's Egypt. Here the candidate that generates the most interest is a reality television personality and real estate mogul. Donald Trump continues to poll as the clear choice of the "unwashed." Without substantive democracy people will opt for a circus with clowns.
Turnout swelled to 55 percent of the voting age population in 2011 for Egypt’s first free parliamentary election in decades. A party list system emphasized policy debate over candidate patronage, and the Brotherhood dominated the vote.
Then a year later a court ordered Parliament’s dissolution over a procedural technicality. The army assumed the legislative powers, and a year after that, in 2013, Mr. Sisi led the military ouster of the elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Brotherhood.
Mr. Sisi has ruled without a legislature since 2013. The current election is expected to return lawmakers to the halls of Parliament for the first time in more than three years.
Mr. Sisi’s government has also outlawed the Brotherhood, arrested its leaders and shut down its media outlets, and the police have cracked down on more secular opposition as well.
For this parliamentary vote, Mr. Sisi put three-quarters of the seats up for competition by individual candidates, favoring the prominent and wealthy. In perhaps the most hotly contested district, in Dokki neighborhood of Giza across the Nile from Cairo, the son of a famous soccer team manager was running on the slogan “We Score for You,” with a soccer ball as his logo.
To add some heft to the statement that the U.S. is in Sisi territory, look at the vote totals of the 2014 Congressional elections. Turnout was 36.4%, the lowest since 1942, a year the U.S. was fully mobilized for a world war. And while you might say that 36% is more than double Egypt's 16%, in some areas, like Ohio and New York, turnout was as low as the days before universal male suffrage.
So for the United States, compared with its own history, we are in Sisi country. How else to explain the GOP Congress, broadly derided as one of the most ineffective in the history of the nation, adding to its majority, which now stands at more than 50 seats?
And this is just the way the plutocrats want it -- a demoralized, broken citizenry staying home rather than going to the polls to rubber stamp candidates who only represent concentrated wealth.
That's why I think in a presidential election between Hillary and Trump, Trump wins because clearly more people will have a reason to vote for a circus clown than for an avatar of a failed system.