“For the first time in my life, I sit holding my breath in front of a TV screen waiting to find out who my next president is. #Egypt”
After 500 days of waiting patiently, Egypt’s first freely elected president in 60 years stands firm! The final run-off between Mohammed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik reached a climax on Sunday, June 24th when the results were announced at a press conference in Cairo. Though both candidates had declared themselves winners before the official results were out, our analysis shows that Morsi had always been the more popular candidate among social media users. And after an extensive speech by election commission head Farouq Sultan, the result corresponded with the hopes and aspirations of the majority of Egyptian social media users: the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi won with 51.7% of the vote. Shafik, his competitor and the last prime minister in the regime of ousted president Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, received 48.3% of the vote. The Buzz during the press conference and after the declaration of results was immense, especially on Twitter and Facebook. Social media users commented on the rising tension during the press conference and shared their opinions with one another before and after the announcement.
To take a closer look at user reactions on various social media channels on the outcome of the elections and sentiments towards the candidates, SocialEyez once more focused on the Egypt elections and analyzed the social media environment for this Buzz Report. The results of the following analysis are based on 9,105 analyzed out of 95,443 captured posts, in both Arabic and English. The research was conducted between June 10-25 in Egypt and on June 24th and 25th across the Middle East.
Within this timeframe, the bulk of comments were captured on social Nnetworks and microblogs, followed by comments on news websites. The remaining 3% of the traffic was driven by forums/ message boards and video sharing platforms.
The final elections: June 10-23
The beginning of the presidential run-off elections on June 16th was the second most-discussed topic in Egypt during the week of June 10-16. The results of the expat vote generated even more traffic, making it the 5th most discussed topic for that week and showing Morsi to be the preferred candidate among Egyptians living abroad. Out of the total volume analyzed, 86% of the Social Media users declared their intention to vote or even criticized boycotters and tried to convince them to take part in the elections, whereas 12% did not plan to fill out the ballot paper. For example, reader Tareq Elmarsawy commented on the website of independent daily Almasry Alyoum: “I won’t give my vote to the one who does not deserve it. And I believe that no one deserves it.”
Across all social media platforms, the majority, or 69%, supported Morsi as president even though there were some voices against him: “The one who elects the Brotherhood will be selling the country for the caliphate. Mohamed Morsi is sick and a psycho…Morsi means that there will be no tourism or economy or innovation, but there will be destruction, full-face-veils and militias” (James Habashy on Christian Dogma, a Coptic forum). On the other hand, Shafik was supported by only 19% of social media users and his supporters posted comments with negative sentiments towards Morsi: “May God help us get rid of the traders of religion and blood… Ahmed Shafik is president, God willing” (Mahmoud Eid on Twitter). Twitter had the largest proportion of Morsi supporters, while most Shafik proponents were found on news websites, where he was supported by at least 35% of the comments. Support for both candidates was generally fueled by rejection for the other. In the case of Morsi, users were supporting the Egyptian revolution against the resurrection of the former regime; in the case of Shafik, users were voting against a domination by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Our analysis has shown that support for each of the two candidates since the first election round has remained almost unchanged and has not witnessed any significant ebbs and flows. However, when the results of the first election were announced, louder calls for boycott were made by 32% of the total volume. These calls soon simmered down, likely indicating that users have decided to take the more pragmatic route: fears of one candidate could have pushed them towards voting for the other – especially after the Supreme Constitutional Court rulings on June 14, which were often described as a military coup.
In the week of June 17-23, the presidential elections were still one of the top subjects on the social web. As the voting was concluded on June 17, the proportion of voters, boycotters and supporters of Morsi or Shafik remained roughly the same. However, 7% of the volume captured warned of chaos if Shafik wins the elections. This fear was expressed by social media influencer Mohammed Maree on Twitter: “Shafik’s success must be faced with another revolution where we must expect lakes of blood … the world won’t sympathize with us and we must resist.” These kinds of comments represented an emerging trend of dread and anticipation regarding the election results, which could lead to a number of frightening scenarios if the results are in favor of the former regime candidate – a view that many Egyptians shared.
The day of truth: Announcement of Election Results on 24th of June in Middle East
The announcement of the presidential election results was one of the biggest online discussions on Middle Eastern social media on June 24th. Hours ahead of the official declaration, Egyptian traditional and social media were buzzing with a number of frightening rumors and scenarios warning of the aftermath of the official results. Nevertheless, most social media users called for ignoring such rumors and spoke out against the dissemination of any unconfirmed piece of news. For example, Mayssa Ahmed El Hefny wrote on the Facebook page of Rasd News Network,an online news service: “Copied. Urgent and important news: Please don’t share any news circulated on Facebook regarding violence on the street, for they are malicious rumors aiming to set fire to the street. Fear God and don’t spread or participate in spreading chaos! Abort the game of rumors.” Moreover, Arab social media users were excited about the results, about which they shared their hopes and thoughts. Morsi supporters did not want the resurrection of the former regime through the election of a regime remnant like Shafik and were also convinced that Morsi’s victory would bring calm the Egyptian streets. Some expressed fear concerning Shafik’s possible victory, especially in terms of the million—man demonstrations for the candidate in Nasr city: “Up until the stand in Nasr city I was sure of Morsi’s win, but afterwards I felt it was a power demonstration by the Military Council and Shafik, and a confrontation to Tahrir Square” (Menna Waleed on E.N.N’s Facebook page). However, Shafik supporters declared their trust in their candidate, including Mohamed Ali on Facebook: “Congratulations to General Ahmed Shafik; tonight we will celebrate eliminating the revolution and the MB in their Tahrir Square. We will wipe them off the face of the earth and they will truly understand the people’s choice. The army will teach them a lesson”.
With the presidential elections being such a hot topic in the social media sphere, the new president got more and more attention on social networks and Twitter as well. Within less than 24 hours, Morsi gained 15,000 followers on Twitter and the first tweet of the new president right after the official results was re-tweeted over 1,600 times:
(“An appreciative and respectful greeting to the honest, fair Egyptian judiciary and brave army and police personal who protected the democratic process with honesty, and congratulations to all Egyptians.”)
The day after: Reactions in the Middle East on June 25th
On June 25th, the day after Morsi’s victory, the social web in the Middle East was packed with conversations about the newly elected president – four out of the five top topics in the region focused on the outcome of the vote – Morsi became a trend on Twitter and he was one of the most discussed figures on social networks that day. Including all discussions and subtopics, the overall sentiment was positive towards the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, with a majority of approximately 70% in Egypt. Additionally, various photos of the new president were circulated, including a photo showing Morsi leading a prayer held at the Presidential Palace.
Egypt-based social media users showed a huge interest in Morsi’s first speech after his presidential election– with a viewing rate of over 100 thousand on the first day. The majority praised the speech, describing it as emotional and touching, but some also pointed out the need for actions, not just words, and for the president-elect to fulfill his promises. Lara Mohammed tweeted: “Great talk, the important thing is to fulfill your promises to us. God help you.” Moreover, Morsi was mocked on Facebook for addressing all factions of the Egyptian people, as well as the different professions, including bus, “tuktuk” and taxi drivers. Users joked that history will look back on Morsi as the first president to utter the word “tuktuk.” “The first speech through a tuktuk; seems like a kid from elementary school wrote it, which talks about tuktuks, microbuses and taxis. This is the new ruler.” (Sameh Teto on Youtube).
With the election of the first civilian head of state in 60 years, Egyptian social media users congratulated one other after the announcement of Morsi’s victory and shared their expectations for a better and brighter future, as well as for the restoration of the country’s pioneering role. “It’s about time Egypt restores its place in the Arab and Islamic world, after some morally corrupt people caused others to deviate from religion and its principles under the pretext of art, civilization and creativity,” Meklafy2011 pointed out on Youtube. Furthermore, the majority expressed relief at Shafik’s defeat, as the former regime seemed to be eliminated forever. However, some users feared that Morsi will be too dependent on the Muslim Brotherhood in his decisions and that he will be a puppet for the group’s General Guide: “Don’t ever think whether you’re Muslim or Christian that Mohammad Morsi will rule; the General Guide will rule, congratulations to us on the new Algeria” (Ahmed Masrawey on a Forum). Meanwhile, many users changed their opinion about the High Presidential Elections Commission. The commission that was previously accused of treason and forgery was showered with thanks and gratitude for persevering until the final announcement. In addition, some Egyptians thanked the ruling military council for fulfilling its promises and holding the presidential elections on time.
Within the Middle East, different countries dealt with various subtopics with regard to the outcome of the election: Some Libyans believed it could be an indication that Islamists will also win the elections of the National Libyan Conference. The majority of Tunisians considered Morsi’s win a victory for the Egyptian revolution and expressed hopes of eliminating regime remnants in Tunisia as well, even though there was some critical verbatim reiterating that the Muslim Brotherhood and former regimes were two faces of the same coin. Some users from Morocco praised Morsi for memorizing the Holy Quran, which others opposed due to their belief in Egypt needing a politician, not a religious scholar. Next to the Buzz about Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who happened to be the first head of state to congratulate Morsi, Kuwaiti social media reflected people’s happiness with the run-off election results, in which many extended their congratulations to Egyptians and Arabs and wished for a better political situation in Egypt. Khalida Yaseen wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations, Egypt, for your new democracy and elected president Morsi. I pray that God bestows his graces on Egypt, Kuwait, Arabs, and Muslims.” Moreover, some users stated that the Sunni Muslim bloc in Kuwait will gain more power with the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in Egypt. “With Morsi’s win, I decided to write immediately to tell you that this will inspire many other people. See, voices rose calling for revoking the suspension of the Kuwaiti parliament! May God protect Kuwait and all the Muslim nations.”
All in all, the social media buzz was positive towards the new president of Egypt. With a new “Morsi Meter” created on Twitter and Facebook to monitor the performance of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the buzz around this issue is likely to continue. As the Arab Spring remains the number one topic in several Arab countries, we at SocialEyez will continue to dig deeper into the social media environment and follow events Egypt and the entire Middle East.
The Buzz Report monitors trends and themes that dominate current discussions on various Social Media platforms. This explicit Buzz Report combined two researches about the Egypt Presidential Elections:
The data from June 10th of May to 23rd of July were captured by SocialEyez analysts, aided by automated tools. They focus their efforts on content determined to have originated in Egypt as well as content published by Egyptians living abroad. To establish location and nationality, SocialEyez tools rely on hosting IP addresses or the site’s webmaster’s self-identified location, while the analysts use a number of qualitative analytical techniques such as analyzing dialect and user-registration details. In addition to automated tools, we rely on in-depth content analysis to help further identify user location and nationality. Results from researches about the whole Middle East Area were added for the dates of June 24th and 25th, which were captured and analyzed with the same methods. The mentioned posts and comments were captured and analyzed in both English and Arabic.
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