Egyptians Warily Await Final Slate Of Candidates | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Egyptians Warily Await Final Slate Of Candidates

Play associated audio

Egypt's election commission is expected to announce the final list of candidates this week for next month's presidential elections. But which candidate will win is far from clear.

A recent Egyptian poll shows nearly 40 percent of voters have no idea who to support. Another 30 percent who had decided will be forced to select someone else because their preferred candidates were among the 10 barred by election officials recently.

As a result, Egyptian voters who were once excited about the prospect of their first free presidential election are growing frustrated.

On a recent morning, campaign workers for ousted candidate Hazem Abu Ismail handed out fliers to drivers on the boulevard outside Egypt's presidential election commission. The fliers accused officials of conspiring to manipulate the upcoming polls to ensure that remnants of Hosni Mubarak's regime stay in power.

Last week, election officials banned Abu Ismail, an ultra-conservative cleric, from running because his mother held dual U.S.-Egyptian citizenship. The nine other candidates were banned for other reasons.

One of the preacher's supporters, Khaled Hassan Ibrahim, claims the disqualifications were part of a plan by the military junta to eliminate Islamists from the race.

He adds that he is inclined to not vote. But if he does go to the polls next month, the 38-year-old merchant says, he has no idea which candidate to vote for.

He is not alone. Few of the people NPR interviewed say they know who they will choose. Many don't know who the candidates are or what they stand for. All expressed frustration.

'First Democratic Experience'

"Until now, I can't understand ... the situation exactly," says Ahmed al Minyawi, a 46-year-old casino manager. "Who is running, who is going to be the president, which side, the Islamic or the [liberal] system, something like this? Most people are very confused."

He says he's leaning toward Amr Moussa, the former secretary-general of the Arab League and a onetime foreign minister under ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. Moussa has wide name recognition in Egypt and recently unveiled a plan for improving the Egyptian economy.

Minyawi's 42-year-old wife, Azza Said, is undecided.

Her main concern is that no extremist be elected. She says she's afraid an Islamist president will strip Egyptian women of their rights and force them to wear headscarves.

But she says she needs to hear more from the candidates before making her decision.

In the conservative neighborhood known as Islamic Cairo, voter Said Maher says he wants an Islamist president. But he, like Azza Said, says he is confused by the choices.

"It's our first democratic experience. There are many parties and many independent candidates we need to hear from," he says.

Too Many Choices?

Analysts say that's a problem because election officials are giving candidates less than a month to campaign in a country that is new to democracy, and where many voters are impoverished and illiterate.

"The Islamists, they had no less than five candidates," says Mustapha Kamel Al-Sayyid, a political science professor and official at the Egyptian Institute for Public Opinion Research. "Definitely this makes it quite difficult for those with Islamist sympathies to decide who to support."

The same holds true for candidates from across the political spectrum, he says.

"We have more than one leftist candidate — we have at least three. The same thing also applies to those who are more committed to liberal causes, and those who wanted to support someone with close links to Mubarak's regime," he says.

His center's poll earlier this month found 38 percent of voters were undecided. Half of those polled who had decided will now have to choose a new candidate because the commission disqualified theirs.

Meanwhile, election officials are scheduled to reveal the final list of candidates on Thursday. Thirteen names are expected to be on the list.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

In An Earthquake, History Fuels One Writer's Anxiety

An earthquake in Napa Valley this week brought back old fears for author Gustavo Arellano. In his anxiety he's revisiting the book, A Crack in the Edge of the World.
NPR

Real Vanilla Isn't Plain. It Depends On (Dare We Say It) Terroir

There's no such thing as plain vanilla — at least if you're talking about beans from the vanilla orchid. Whether it's from Tahiti or Madagascar, vanilla can be creamy, spicy or even floral.
NPR

Climate Policy Takes The Stage In Fla. Governor's Race

Rick Scott, Florida's GOP governor, has come under criticism for his record on the environment. Now, he's rolling out his own proposals for safeguarding the state's water and wildlife preserves.
NPR

An App Can Reveal When Withdrawal Tremors Are Real

You probably haven't thought about whether your phone could help diagnose alcohol withdrawal. Well, it can. An app for doctors measures tremors and may help tell if someone's faking it to get drugs.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.