“Great success” or “Long way to go”? The online reactions to the first round of Egypt elections couldn’t be more different. Egyptians were voting on November 28 and 29, and the runoff December 5 and 6 in spite of the riots and deaths before the elections. The official turnout reached 52% which was the highest ever in an Egyptian election. On Twitter one user described the elections as “dirty” claiming that “observers are letting results stand for fear of an Islamist civil war like Algeria in ’92” whereas a user in a Forum writes: “I call upon all Egyptians to vote! It is a national duty. Another Blogger goes much further and suggests: “Egypt needs a new road map, not just elections”. Despite the high controversy concerning the results, a vast majority of users were in favor of participating in the parliamentary elections. Over 75% of all monitored social media users in Egypt supported the elections and only 15% were opposing it by arguing that elections under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) were not legitimate.
Besides the ongoing discussions around whether to vote or not, users were also eager to discuss possible results and the final outcomes. In terms of Islamist leading ahead of the elections, 55% off all monitored comments welcomed the result. For example Tweeter Aliaa Hamed asked “Why are people shocked of the progress of the Brotherhood and Salafists, as if it was a surprise?! Those who feel sad shall work hard, run in the remaining two rounds, and vote for the civil streams.” Facebook fan Zeinab Zoza added “Egypt is Islamic, and this will make the secularists or liberals understand that the nation loves and trusts its religion and will not accept a secular state.” On the other side 40% opposed the results and even feared Islamists in power. On Youm7, an independent news website, reader Genuine Egyptian said: “Do you know what the Islamists will do if they take power? They will force all the women to wear veils; close all the cinemas and theaters, prevent women from driving cars, and destroy tourism.”
For a better overview the following results are divided by the social media types. Most data was captured on Microblogs (71%), fewest on Forums with only 1%.
Similar to the actual turnout in the Egyptian web-community the majority claimed to want to participate in the elections. About two out of three users supported participation in the elections, only one third was against the vote because of the “unfair” conditions. Interestingly 70% continued protests even though they favored the elections. For example prominent human rights campaigner Hossam Bahgat stated: “I’m against military rule and against the Ganzouri [new] cabinet and I support Tahrir Square and the immediate transfer of power to civilians, but I will participate in the elections.” Out of the group that called for a boycott of the elections 90% described the elections as corrupt as long as they are held under military rule. Blogger Ahmed Elmoqdamy said: “I would boycott the elections because they are illegitimate under the military rule that I call to topple.” Overall in the discussion most popular-used Hashtags were #Egypt, #Election and #egyelections. The protesters also used #SCAF, #NOSCAF and #tahrir.
Other popular Tweets regarding the elections:
Among the Facebook Pages with the most discussions about the elections, was the fanpage ‘We Are All Khaled Said’ with close to 165,000 ‘Likes’ and over 2,400 ‘People Talking about it’. Originally this page was founded to honor an 28-year-old Egyptian who was tortured to death at the hands of two police officers. Since its launch this page serves as a common platform for all kind of protests against the regime and is also used as a popular exchange forum during the Egypt elections. One much shared post by famous activist Wael Ghonim stated on November 28: “Elections will be held tomorrow. In a nutshell, we all have to participate and choose our candidates. It’s one of the stages of the democratic transition in Egypt and we have to protect it. No one should lag behind the participation because the next parliament is the one that will decide upon the future of Egypt.” As a response for example fan Omar Helal said: “I’m anxious that the election will be held over two days, and I think it will be rigged.” The total post received over 3,300 Likes, 500 shares and 900 comments:
Generally many social media users like Emad Hussein, also dedicated the elections to January 25: “Despite all events, I’m very happy with and proud of today’s elections. Thanks for all who contributed to making this day. Thank you Tahrir Square.” Kimo Systimo goes even further and “salutes to the blood of the martyrs who made this possible and enables them to live freely”. On Facebook the overwhelming majority of posts were in Arabic language.
Some quotes from popular news websites:
Al Dostor (opposition news website): “Remember that every vote counts and regardless of who ultimately wins, we must all do our part and vote for the party and the candidates that represent our values and our aspirations for equality, justice and dignity for all Egyptians. People of Egypt, vote and save Egypt from the powers of darkness and fascism.”
Al Wafd News (liberal news website): “The Egyptian people insist on the success of the elections. We will stand against any attempt to spoil this democratic process.”
Masrawy (independent news website): “All the candidates are opportunists and politically corrupt. This parliament will be full of the ex-regime remnants who nominated themselves under new parties. This is the viewpoint of a lot of Egyptians.”
Youm7 (independent news website): “May God bless Egypt. This election is the most important thing now. All the Egyptians must unite and vote to participate in the success of the elections.”
Some quotes from popular forum entries:
Fatakat (specialized forum for women and their interests): “We must vote to move a step forward towards democracy. May God help us choose the best candidate.”
Christian Dogma (prominent Christian forum): “May God support all the voters. I hope that these elections will be transparent and fair.”
The second round of elections will take place on December 14 and 15 with the run-off on 21–22 December. Third round will continue on 3–4 January with the run-off on 10–11 January. The final presidential elections are expected to be held in July 2012.
The Buzz Report monitors trends and themes that recently buzzed on various social media platforms. This explicit search was conducted on all social media platforms in Egypt in Arabic and English language during the week of the Egypt elections. The focus of the research was on social media conversations and social media trends reflecting the sentiment towards the Egyptian vote.
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