As a sweltering and generally low-attended day 2 of the Egyptian presidential runoff grinds to a close, Sunday is starting to feel like an unexpected calm before multiple storms. The real action should start late tonight as the campaigns start putting out their own predictions and accusations and the multiple public affairs shows weigh in.
Here’s a list of issues and dynamics to look out for moving forward.
On the first day of voting Saturday, the voter turnout appeared—according to multiple observers—to be on par with the 46% for first round voting last month. But Sunday’s numbers appear to have plummeted around the country. The Egypt Independent reported on Sunday that in the southern province of Minya, the lines outside gas stations were far longer than those in front of polling stations.
This final turnout figure is far more than just a technical footnote; it’s a psychological and emotional barometer of the national mood and a form of political currency for each camp in this conflict.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces badly needs a decent number in order to demonstrate an enduring public mandate and faith in the transitional process so far.
If the turnout drops below 25% for example, it would embolden those critics who would argue that the public has lost faith and enthusiasm in an illegitimate process.
*The Spoiled Ballots:
One of the persistent debates in revolutionary circles for the past month has centered around how best to register their opposition and disgust. The main question has been whether to sit out the vote entirely or deliberately spoil their votes in protest. In the first round presidential vote, around 400,000 ballots were invalidated. It’s impossible to know how many of those were mistakenly filled out and how many deliberately ruined. But if that number leaps dramatically this time around, while the overall turnout stays static or drops, we’ll know the spoil-your-vote campaign had an impact.
*The Vote Count:
For the multi-round parliamentary elections last winter, ballot boxes were trucked to a central location and unsealed there. But a change was instituted for the presidential rounds—with the counts now taking place onsite. Theoretically, this eliminated the logistical and security hassle of trucking these boxes around the country while keeping them secure. But it also seems ripe for abuses since there’s so many more locations for monitors and observers to cover. Look for widespread allegations on both sides, especially given how close this vote is expected to be.
*The Orphaned 40 Percent:
In a broad sense you can consider the voting bloc of third and fourth place finishers Hamdeen Sabahi and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh to be one larger community—the “non-brotherhood pro-change” camp. They compromise a 40% bloc that probably isn’t thrilled with either run-off option. Some of them will boycott or ruin their votes, and the rest will probably hold their noses and vote Moursi. It’s hard to imagine too many from this camp going over to Shafiq.
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