Comprising of the two most upscale neighborhoods of the Giza governorate – Dokki and Mohandiseen – the district is also home to the lower-class slum areas of Imbaba and al-Warraq. EgyptVotes observed these contradictions and compared the different voting blocs in both areas.
Voting in mind with job opportunities for children
Amidst a crowd reminiscent of the first day of the first phase of parliamentary elections, al-Hagga Fawzia Abdel Rahman stood in a line dozens of meters long in front of the polling station at Ahmed Orabi Primary School in Imbaba. She had come to elect someone who would provide respectable job opportunities for her four sons, who are college graduates but still living at home with her, with no prospect of marriage or a future due to unemployment. Whoever she votes for has to be able to restore security to the street, she said. At the same time, however, Abdel Rahman expressed confusion over who to choose, though she quickly recovered, saying she would vote for the youth of the revolution, because they're like her sons and know what her sons are going through, so they're bound to defend their rights. She indicated that this is the first time she's voted, and gave credit to the revolution for her newfound feeling of responsibility for her vote.
The search for stability leads to the Islamists
At this point, homemaker Mona Ali cut her off saying that she only came to avoid the fine, after the media had tossed the issue again. She said that even at this moment she did not know whom she would vote for, so she consulted her niqab-wearing neighbour, who told her that voting for the bearded candidate would count as a good work in God's eyes. Therefore, she would be voting for any bearded candidate.
On the other hand, rickshaw-driver Mohamed Ali explained the massive crowd in front of polling stations and the high turnout in elections saying people felt endangered by what Egypt is going through at the present time. They saw elections as the sole means to restore security in the streets and put an end to protests and sit-ins that were having a huge impact on their lives. He said the grand majority of slum residents in the neighbourhood could be classified as seasonal workers, and were the most affected by political events, to the extent that millions could not scrounge up their daily bread. They were participating in elections to find any possible escape from the crisis.
Generational voting in Dokki and Mohandiseen
In contrast to the crowds in Imbaba and al-Warraq, the neighbourhood of Dokki witnessed relative calm in front El Orman Military Secondary School, where Mohamed Ahmed, a trainer at the Shooting Club was voting. Ahmed said elections were only an exercise of political rights enumerated by the law and the constitution. He said he came to vote to exercise his political rights and select the faction that would win a majority in parliament, so Egypt could escape from this bottleneck and see power handed over to civilians.
Ahmed said that the candidate's intellectual ability and their ability to express the voice of the street were two decisive factors in the criteria he used in choosing representatives for the revolution parliament, as well as the candidate's ability to defend the principle of a civil state.
Ahmed classified the categories of people who came out to vote into generations. The first category were older people from the pre-revolutionary generation who came to polls thinking that it was a religious obligation, as was portrayed to them by some religious forces. Meanwhile, young people were coming out to defend their dreams of a free nation, to safeguard their democratic right to vote, and choose who would represent them in parliament. Further, they also had a desire to support the youth of the revolution, who were an integral part of them.
Amal Ibrahim noted the influence of Islamists was much less in upscale neighborhoods, whose residents enjoyed a level of economic independence. They were more able to be neutral, as they did not face the pressing concerns of poverty, like several neighbourhoods such as Boulaq, Imbaba and al-Barageel, whose residents had a high rate of illiteracy and were easily influenced by Islamist forces.
Bourgeois hopes of a civil state seem dashed
Do these details recounted by Amal Ibrahim explain the low voter turnout EgyptVotes noticed in upscale neighbourhoods such as Dokki? Dr. Ali Abdel Rahman, representative for independent candidate Amr al-Shoubaky, says that the residents of these neighbourhoods had taken time to make up their minds, which made them hesitant to choose, while they tried to make the best choice. Their standards were completely different from those of the residents of poor slum neighbourhoods. Most importantly, they wanted to defend the civil state, which entailed that the Islamist landslide in the first phase gave them a sense of danger. This made many among them lose hope that Egypt would remain secular and led them to abstain from voting. In poor neighbourhoods, the situation was the opposite, where residents scurried to polls fearing the fine imposed by Egypt's political rights law.
*Uncredited pictures provided by the journalist.