Egypt vote: The weird and wonderful party logos

By Kevin Connolly
BBC Middle East correspondent


Voting is under way in Egypt, in the first elections since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February. There is a long list of parties, each with its own logo, such as a food blender, a traffic light and a vacuum cleaner.

The basic principles of branding are obvious.

You pay a king's ransom to a pony-tailed expert with brightly-coloured spectacle frames.

If you're a multinational company whose business involves burying nuclear waste under children's playgrounds, go counter-intuitive - pick a puppy holding a daisy in its teeth.

If you're a political party, go for the comfort of the familiar - impressionistic tree, stylised bird, pop-art rose.

In this - and in many other things - Egypt is finding its own way to democracy.

Every candidate has been assigned a symbol or brand by the election authorities - a crucial tool on polling day in a country where at least a third of voters are illiterate. The logo appears on their posters and it will be on the ballot paper too.

Even if you can read and write, trying to remember who is who on the sheaf of ballot papers you'll be receiving may not be easy.

I know of one constituency where voters will be choosing between 77 candidates from the party list and then making their selections from a further 133 who are running as individual candidates.

Egypt has gone from having no democracy at all to having the most complicated system I've ever encountered.

Not surprisingly the guys in the logo department at the election commission have been scraping the bottom of the barrel a bit.

Among the visual aid logos I've seen for candidates as we've travelled across Egypt are a blender, a ballistic missile, a basketball and an orange.

image captionBallot papers feature a long list of names and logos

If you're very optimistic I suppose you might see a subtle suggestion of virtue buried in there somewhere.

There's a wholesomeness about the fruit, and the man represented by the juicer could argue he's always pressing on your behalf. You just have to hope missile man isn't a supporter of disarmament.

But I doubt many people will vote for the candidate represented by the bicycle if they notice the rather attractive-looking motorbike. And the same goes for the prospects of the tobacco pipe against the high-speed train.

Imagine the feelings of the candidates bursting with charisma and energy who found themselves branded with a rather plain office desk and a dining-room chair.

And you wonder what plans the man represented by the screwdriver has for the electorate.

Egypt's elections find it on the brink of a future filled with exciting possibilities even if the military authorities have chosen to rob the event of drama by spreading the voting over several months.

For the all the violence around Tahrir Square, all the suspicion of the military, all the huge economic problems to come, the whiff of freedom is in the air.

And whatever their differences, the basketball, the orange, the missile and the dining-room chair can all agree on that.