Monday 28 November 2011

Why I think We Should Vote...

When one performs an act of absolute defiance, an act that may involve the possible harming of oneself, one must at least believe that it is indeed the only remaining solution, or that it is the one that has the best odds of achieving anything. In either case, there should at least be the honest belief that this act would, or even could, actually achieve something in the end, and that actual the risk is in some way or another deserving of any potential reward.

There is blood on the streets. The electoral system is complex for even the most educated for us and will yield, by design, assymetric and illogical results over an unreasonably and laughingly long and worn out process. In fact, many statements and laws appear to contradict one another up to this point with regards to how the electoral process would finally take place. The military council organizing the elections is struggling to prove its fledgling (and some would argue as quite depleted) legitimacy, and is the subject to intense criticisms both locally and on the international stage. There are many potential violations up to this point in many districts, and many insufficiently vetted candidates running. Some of the candidates are experiencing intimidations, with one actually stabbed. Even more, liberal, nationalist and leftist parties are weak and disorganised, the nature of all new parties perhaps, and only the conservatives are set to win big for a multitude of reasons, leading to a parliament that will not necessarily represent the true ideological spectrum of Egyptians. Even worse, the ballot boxes will stay overnight under government care as each electoral phase runs for two days, leaving all fears of potential electoral fraud not unfounded. I have so many reasons why neither the vote should take place, more than the above, nor I should not vote on a personal level.

And yet, it seems, these reasons will not be enough, at this point, to merit any logical and benefit-based argument against voting.

In March, many (including myself) organised and participated a massive "Vote No" campaign on the constitutional referendum, and practically had most of the media and an avalanche of celebrities out there supporting it, and there was a considerable ground campaign as well. The revolution was even at its most popular at the time. The "No" camp lost, by more than 77%.

The fact is that the overwhelming majority of likely voters will vote, whether out of faith in the process, desire to move forward, following the rules, confusion, or just to avoid the monetary penalty.

And this time, we do not even have a boycott campaign in place. Even the pro revolution & Tahrir people (of which I describe myself as one) are divided on the subject. Political parties themselves have decided to go forward with the elections as well, seeing that their earlier threats to boycott wielded little & pathetic results. 

Even more, speaking of and to one particular political segment, most of the voices calling for a boycott have seemingly come from liberals & secularists, though with some degree support from Islamists and Nationalists to be sure, and those liberals & secularists are already a small base in the elections where every single vote matters. Assuming a predominantly liberal boycott, and with the numbers I'm interpolating, enough people will end up voting in Egypt for this to be a truly legitimate national election process (though I don't think there is reason, other than the threat of a monetary fine, for the number to surpass the 40%+ of voters in the March referendum), but also the boycotting votes could be enough to seriously damage the already supposedly meagre liberal share of parliamentary seats in possibly the most critical election in the history of Egypt and the region.

Even in terms of support of the revolution, an elected body, no matter how deformed it is, gives a voice to the people in front of the ruling Military Council. Yes, the constitutional declaration strips it of so many of its normal powers, and most of the candidates seem uninspiring and some even possibly damaging to the gains of the revolution, but the parliament would remain vested with the (significantly manipulated) votes of the people, and can mount a serious challenge to the regime whenever necessary. There would finally be a civil political body that can represent the people, something sorely needed at this point, even if that representation is indeed distorted.

The elections will go forward, with the votes of those who boycott or not, and the choice now is between having any real influence on a magnanimous (and at this point, seemingly inevitable) step in the history of Egypt, while maintaining all options with regards to the continuation of the protests and the sit-in in Tahrir as well with their demand for a national unity/salvation government, or risking potentially destructive losses without any likely gains  to justify the risk.

This is why, with a heavy heart, I will vote.

Then return to Tahrir...


Note: I am merely trying my human best to come up with a logical position. I could be wrong of course.

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