Egypt elections: 'Violence won't stop us voting'


Egypt's parliamentary elections starting on 28 November represent the next vital stage in the country's post-revolutionary history.

The vote will determine who is going to control the parliament that will elect a 100-member committee that will write a new constitution.

The elected parliament will also liaise with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), the rulers of Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February, in order to appoint a new cabinet.

Egyptians from across the country tell the BBC how they feel about the elections and what they hope for the future.

Soha, Cairo

My personal choice would be to delay the election for a short time, maybe a fortnight. Just enough to resolve the issues with Tahrir and so on.

But we don't have much choice if we are to have our first democratic election. We're obliged to make it go ahead, so I have only one choice and will go and vote regardless.

Like many others, we have all waited a long time for this.

Everyone is sceptical about the voting taking place over two days. How can it be done securely and without the results from the first day being leaked on the second?

Security is not at its best, but even older people, my mother included, will go and vote. We keep hearing rumours of the old practices of giving money and food, but we hope that these elections will be democratic.

They couldn't ensure the security of the protesters in a couple of streets in Tahrir in one district of Cairo, so how can the whole country be secure for the elections? It doesn't make sense.

We are very concerned about the prospect of violence, we talk about it a lot and what measures we can take, but it won't stop us voting. Let's hope there's no violence - but I'm sure there will be in some areas - it will depend on where you are in Cairo.

I hope that these elections will be good for everyone in Egypt, whether they are Muslim or Christian, Nubian, men or women. We want a state where we have equal rights, free from oppression and where our rights are respected and we can express ourselves freely. Everyone is dreaming of a new free Egypt.

Sirwin, Sharm el Sheikh

Should the elections go ahead? Anything to help us move forward should go ahead. This procrastination is not good, so let's try change.

From the majority of the people I speak to there's a sense of let's get on with it, even if conditions aren't ideal. At least let's see what the experience is. Something has to happen because this stalemate isn't good and the protests aren't moving us forward.

I think the majority of Egyptians want to have elections. They want them to bring stability to the country. The guys really suffering aren't the well-paid ones like lawyers and doctors who you see protesting, it's the less well off.

Here in Sharm violence isn't an issue now because people coming here to earn a living know they need to keep it peaceful to attract the tourists. There's no sign of "old practices", just the usual friction between the Bedouins and the upper Egypt guys, which is to be expected. But none of the violence we've seen elsewhere.

We rely on tourism here and it's not good for us when there is instability in the country. Normally people go on tours from Sharm, but they are cautious about travelling to other places like Luxor.

Baher, Alexandria

I think the elections should go ahead, there's no point in postponing them now. I believe elections are the fastest route and the first step towards true democracy, which is what we protested for in January.

While the loss of life in the recent events is regrettable, I don't understand people who think that it means we should postpone the elections. I don't see how that would help.

I'm hoping for a high turnout from voters. Even in the referendum, the turnout was 42% which was a disappointment. There is a £500 fine for not voting which I hope will motivate voters.

I am worried about violence and intimidation at the polls.

I worry that Mubarak's supporters in the National Democratic Party will use the same tactics they have in the past. But I hope the army and the police will make sure that the elections pass off without violence or intimidation.

I have an exam at university in the morning otherwise I would go straight to vote the moment the polls open at 0800. The moment I finish my exam, around noon, I plan to go straight to the polls.

Following an interview with General Mamdouh Shahine from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), where he essentially said the elected parliament will have little or no power over the government and that Scaf will be calling the shots as long as it is in power, I doubt they will leave willingly in June as Mohamad Hussain Tantawi has said.

I will participate in the elections but this does not mean we've forgotten the people who died, but that we have not lost hope and will continue through all means to fight for a democratic future.

At the same time I believe the protests and sit in at Tahrir must continue, we need to show the army we have not fallen asleep or gone away.

Rasheed, Cairo

The elections will be difficult and a big test for all, because it is the first time many people are voting without any restrictions on who they can choose. Lots of people are confused because there are lots of candidates from lots of parties.

But it is a test for us to see how democracy works. Undoubtedly, there will be mistakes but we must learn from them.

For example, in the south, there are lots of families with influence because of their involvement in things like agriculture. People have tended to vote there according to family standing, a bit like Sicily.

This is how it is, but it will improve. There is lots of potential but it will take time. The main challenge is not in the cities but in the suburbs and the neglected areas.

The dilemma for everyone is whether this is the right time for elections. With the issues with Scaf and the violence it's a critical time in my view. But it if is going to happen, it is going to happen and it is our job to make sure we vote.

I have taken a course to help supervise the voting and it will be my job to go out and supervise in as many of my areas as I can.

I do fear that someone will try to sabotage the election and try to cause trouble and anarchy. A lot of people I know are scared to vote. We have to show that the route to democracy is through voting.

My big hope is that a percentage of seats will go to people of my age who started the revolution and had the courage to do so.

I hope we will be able to push forward ideas of freedom, respect and proper living which we have been protesting for.