After decades of winning sweeping majorities in student union elections in Egyptian universities, the Muslim Brothers (MB) lost heavily in the elections this year. The majority of the student union seats went to seculars or independents
After decades of winning sweeping majorities in student union elections in Egyptian universities, the Muslim Brothers (MB) lost heavily in the elections this year. The majority of the student union seats went to seculars or independents.
The elections, which were held earlier this month, voted in 100 per cent secular students in Ain Shams University’s Faculty of Engineering; 94 percent seculars in the Faculty of Pharmacy; 100 per cent seculars in the Faculty of Medecine’s last year, but the MB won 40 per cent of the vote of the fifth year of the Faculty of Medicine. And the list goes on; the MB were not able to secure a majority vote in any of the university colleges in Cairo or Alexandria.
For many analysts, the heavy MB loss, a first since decades, was seen as a clear signal of the deteriorating popularity of the Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood; a direct result of the wide discontent with the performance of the Islamist ruling regime led by President Mursi.
Nassif Fahmy, professor of Sociology at Helwan University attempted an explanation of the surprise election results. He told Watani that it reflected the current prevailing sentiment in Egypt, which expresses itself in demonstrations, riots and police violence. These in turn echo the skyrocketing unemployment and social injustices, as well as the prevalent political failure that has culminated with a widely unaccepted constitution and an unconstitutional law for parliamentary elections.
University students are part of the community which is now aware of how the current ruling regime has failed to bring security or prosperity to the country, and is able to recognise that other political elements can work changes for the better.
The MB’s Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafi al-Nour Party, the strongest Islamist elements on the Egyptian political arena, have become unmasked before the public. They managed to win the parliamentary and presidential elections but, once in office, they did not keep the promises they had made, and fought with each other over how to divide the political cake between them. The secular win in the student union elections then, according to Dr Fahmy, comes as a natural result of the current Egyptian scene.
Will this reflect on the upcoming parliamentary elections? Watani asked Dr Fahmy. Egypt’s post-revolution elections, Dr Fahmy said, were governed by practices through which the Islamists took advantage of Egypt’s poor and poorly-educated. They bribed them with basic commodities such as oil, sugar and tea to secure their votes. They made splendid promises of the good life that awaited Egyptians once the Islamists came into power.
The situation is now different, Dr Fahmy said, after Egyptians have seen for themselves that the Islamists had deluded them and were either unable or unwilling to bring in democracy, security or prosperity. It was thus natural to look for another alternative.
Samia Qadri, Sociology professor of sociology at Ain Shams University, agrees with Dr Fahmy. She adds, though, that whereas national elections have been replete with violations and tainted with allegations of forgery, the ‘limited’ and easily-supervised student union elections bring in reliable results. So, Dr Qadri says, the recent elections can be taken to reflect a change in political mood in Egypt.
13 March 2013
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