Presidential elections 2018; experience of an Egyptian voter abroad

Yesterday, March 16, was the first day of voting for the Egyptian presidential election abroad, especially I have been voting since I got my retirement from the armed forces and started practicing my political rights.

As usual, my wife and I preferred to vote during the first day, not only because it is a weekend, but also a day that many Egyptian voters avoid. We noticed that during the work of the interim committee for the Egyptian national ID renewal in the Egyptian Embassy in Abu Dhabi several weeks ago, their influx increased during official business days and not during weekends.

Like other Egyptians and observers, I predicted a severe decline of the turnout of Egyptians this time, on the basis that the final result of the presidential elections 2018 and the next president of Egypt is known in advance because of  lack of real competition, bearing in mind the increasing calls from the Egyptian protectors to boycott this election for the same reasons.

This has made me and others expect a very weak influx and lack of turnout during the election abroad. I decided not to watch any Egyptian satellite channels to avoid the disturbing scene in which the media pleaded with the masses of Egyptians to go to vote. Perhaps I looked through my facebook account at photos, videos showing live voting in many Egyptian embassies as national exaggerations may be an organized attempts to encourage the Egyptians abroad to vote.

Despite all of these, My wife and I decided to go to vote at last fifteen minutes, and perhaps we’ll find a very warm reception meeting the sever lack of voters.

When we arrived at the embassy area at 8:45 pm, we found that the road which is the Egyptian embassy is located is closed by the police to prevent any cars from entering to avoid more crowd. Honestly I thought that Egyptian residing in Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain city thought the same that I had in mind. But I found that I was wrong, I learned from those in the waiting area outside the Egyptian embassy that some of them had been there for almost four hours and the turnout was very high.

I found the waiting area well equipped for a very good reception, and the scene seemed like a meeting of old friends who enjoyed the national songs repeating them with the voices of the singers sometimes. Many of voters brought their children with them, as if they were on a national school trip on the weekend. I also founded some of those who have already voted were still in the car parks of the Embassy area, with their children singing with national songs played inside in their cars.

Although they seemed very tired after 12 hours of working, the staff of the Election Committee, the Egyptian embassy, the UAE policemen responsible for securing the election process, and some Egyptian volunteers who contributed seriously and impressively till the last minute regulating the entry, all of them were smiling with patience welcoming the voters.

Fortunately my wife and I spent only one hour in the waiting area (we used to spend few minutes only during  the previous elections). According to our turn, we’re directed to the next stage: the ID verification queue and vote; this long queue took about another half an hour.

Finally, a questions has imposed itself, “What’s the real motive that makes Egyptian people accept to vote in an unprecedented manner in elections with a known result, waiting for long hours?

Sayed Ghoneim