So we had a referendum.
I’ve generally referred to it as a ‘referendumb’ because, in my view, there were some serious issues that detracted from any real notion of the people making a choice –
1. There was no second option.
Although, ostensibly, you could vote Yes or No – in reality the No vote was never presented (or explained) as an option. Everybody knew what would happen with a Yes vote; the constitution would pass, and we’d move along, etc – but nobody ever bothered to investigate or discuss what a No vote would entail. Would the whole constitution be re-written? Would only certain articles be written? How would you determine which articles were unpopular when the referendumb is for a package deal and isn’t done per Section or per Chapter? Would the ’71 constitution be back in place? Morsi’s constitution? Nobody knew, and when I went back to read the ‘Roadmap’ of July 3rd, and the Declaration of July 8th, I found nothing. There was no information about what would happen if the referendumb resulted in a No, and since it’s unfair to ask people to choose between a known quantity and an unknown quantity, there was, essentially, no choice.
2. You couldn’t campaign for No.
People who campaigned for a No vote were, in turn, silenced, harassed, and finally arrested (on various random charges no doubt resulting from escalated arguments happening before and during the referendumb). This alone detracts gravely from any ‘democratic’ value there was to any of the Yes votes.
3. The issue was confused.
It’s easy to see that a lot of people weren’t voting on the referendumb at all, but on the destruction of the so-called Muslim Brotherhood, and to ‘encourage’ and/or ‘pressure’ El-Sisi into running for President – since the message the state ‘leaked’ to all the media was that El-Sisi might consider running if the referendumb results were reassuring.
Overall, it’s a bit of a joke.
In fact, it’s easy to think that the referendumb, in fact, a popular ‘intervention’ staged by the military and with the assistance of the people, in the hope that a large Yes turnout would finally convince the MB’s that they had no hope, that the people had all turned against them, that any long-held dreams that they still ‘owned’ any legitimacy were gone.
The official results? 38% turnout and a 98% Yes vote. On the fact of it, an impressive victory for the Sisi regime, but the big picture in this case, obscures a few easily seen issues here, and I can name them all:
Fayoum, Menya, Assyut, Sohag, Aswan, Qina, and Marsa Matrouh.
The turnout in those governorates was a measly 23.75% – a full 15% below the national average, and these are governorates that include 22.6% of eligible voters, around 12 million people.
How many people is that? Well, roughly – 15% of 12 million – that’s around 1,800,000 people in those governorates who were effectively boycotting (not just ‘missing’ – the difference is vital) this referndumb.
Now add those to the 400 thousand people who did vote No and you get a lot of angry people, and they won’t disappear overnight unless they’ve been detained and all the forms of state oppression designed to make them disappear will only increase their numbers.