I will try to keep this as short and to the point as possible. I am taking the unpopular decision to not participate in tomorrow’s parliamentary elections. After many twitter debates I decided to put down my reasons in one place so I do not have to repeat myself (these are by no means in any particular order) :
1) Parliament will be powerless
According to both the active temporary constitution and SCAF, the parliament will have practically no legal authorities and will not have the right to form a government/name ministers. In fact, just like under Mubarak, SCAF will not only be allowed to name the government (they have: fuckin Ganzoury!), but to also directly appoint members of parliament who have not been elected. Further, any law that parliament passes will still have to be implemented by these appointee ministers. If there are laws that SCAF does not agree with, they will simply not be implemented by the various ministries.
2) Candidates are either liars, fools or just naïve
Every candidate out there has a platform or progam he/she’s trying to get himself elected on. How can any one candidate push a (non-SCAF) program through and expect it to ever be put in a budget and implemented by the various ministries? It will not happen. Thus, any candidate who tells me that I should vote for him because he will ‘fix the economy’, ‘solve unemployment’ or ‘tackle social justice issues’ is just bullshitting me to get my vote. Either that or he is a complete idiot who still does not recognize that the parliament he is attempting to be elected to does not have such powers. In either case I would not want such a person to represent me.
3) Blocking the Islamist Vote
Another common argument for voting is to counter the Islamist vote. Forgive me but if this is your call to arms, you are (to put it politely) weak. If you look the other way as SCAF loots the economy, tortures, murders and arrests citizens illegally, but then overnight you feel that it is your duty to protect your lifestyle that includes martinis and bikinis from the horrible Islamists then you are not deserving of democracy. I would take a popularly elected Brotherhood a million times before I take a corrupt murdering dictatorship like SCAF, but that’s an argument for another day.
4) Legitimacy of SCAF
I do not believe that SCAF is the correct legitimate authority that should be administering these elections. As it stands, the Ministry of Interior and the army are responsible for both maintaining security at polling stations as well as securing the ballot boxes. In previous elections (as recently as last year) the MOI was directly complicit in vote fixing for NDP, causing violence and disallowing certain voters into polling stations. These same officers will be at the same polling stations starting tomorrow and we’re supposed to trust that everything they’ve ever know about elections will be forgotten and they will suddenly run everything honestly? Ballot boxes left overnight in care of MOI/army will be left unmolested or unreplaced? Naïve to say the least.
5) Threats to stability
Another awful (disgraceful) excuse people seem to be using for elections is the stability argument. What happens if we don’t have parliament, reform will come along slower, the economy will continue to falter etc. Well if you don’t believe it yet, believe it: so long as SCAF is managing the economy, the economy will continue to falter. This will not change with or without a farcical parliament. I would also like to highlight that this will probably be the most polarized parliament in the history of Egypt and thus far less likely to be able to stand unified against SCAF (think of Salafeya and MB having to stand hand in hand with liberals and socialists).
6) Legal Appeals Process
Assuming that the gruelling and painful election process does in fact happen and people are ‘elected’. Given the current security climate, it is highly likely that there will be a large number of legal appeals made by losing candidates, some justified and some not so justified. At that point if you are SCAF there are two choices, a) allow appeals that could potentially postpone assembly of parliament for months or b) deny losing candidates their legal rights to an appeal. Both choices are awful. So if your argument is ‘we need to vote so that we can get the process moving quick and the economy back on track’, then there will certainly be false representation as a result of a tainted election process that cannot be legally challenged.
Perhaps I should also quickly mention that as recently as a few days ago our Ministry of Interior who is controlled by SCAF ordered its troops to open fire on rock throwing protestors in the streets of Cairo. Both the Minister of Interior and various members of SCAF have said on tv multiple times that none of their forces opened fire on anyone despite countless deaths and videos on the internet showing officers clearly taking shots at civilians. These are the people you are trusting with this so-called election. These are the people who will continue to run the country and street after these ‘elections’. These are the people who will use the pretext of the people’s will being represented through parliament to clamp down even further on anyone on the outside who dares to question their corrupt murderous mismanagement of the country.
For me, not voting has little to do with apathy. I believe that people should demand that an untainted civilian (perhaps in the form of a strong PM) or civilian council (perhaps in the form of Presidential Council) should be the authority to oversee the ministries who will manage parliamentary elections. Until that is the case I cannot, with a clear conscience, participate in parliamentary elections that grant legitimacy to a dictatorial force whose self interests are above those of the country.