Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mubarak's New Look

Graffiti on Mervette Street between Tahrir Square and Abdel Monem Riyad

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What Al Masry Al Youm Censored from Robert Springborg’s Article

On 1 December 2011, Egypt Independent, a printed paper produced by Al Masry Al Youm’s English section was censored. Over 20,000 copies were pulled from the market upon the request of Magdy El Gallad, the editor of the Arabic version of Al Masry Al Youm. El Gallad asked that an article by Robert Springborg be revised. The article was entitled, ‘Is Tantawi reading the public’s pulse correctly?’.

Magdy El Gallad
The Egypt Independent crew opposed this censorship. Alistair Beach wrote an article in the Independent criticizing this form of censorship entitled ‘Censorship row fuels public's fears over Egyptian election'. Magdy El Gallad accused Beach of having a foreign agenda. Robert Springborg exposed El Gallad in Foreign Policy with his article entitled, ‘What Egypt’s Military Doesn’t Want Its Citizens to Know’.

In response, Magdy El Gallad wrote a piece defending himself. This is word for word translation, and this is a more accurate translation that captures the true spirit of the piece.

The revised article was published in Al Masry Al Youm’s English edition but the uncensored version never made it officially. Through a bootlegged copy, for your reading pleasure, find below in quotes the part that was censored internally by Al Masry Al Youm’s Magdy El Gallad.

Is Tantawi reading the public’s pulse correctly?

In his speech to the nation on 22 November, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, almost as an aside, announced that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was prepared to hold a referendum on the issue of the military turning power over to civilians. This was intended as a threat to his civilian challengers. Reported to be a keen follower of public opinion polls, the Field Marshal and his advisers no doubt calculated that in any such referendum, the majority of voters would support military over civilian rule.

“The second problem is more profound and threatening to the SCAF, namely that many in the military resent the reputation of their institution being abused by the Field Marshal and his 19 colleagues on the SCAF. This resentment would be greatly heightened by a referendum, especially one in which the wording of the proposition purposely ignores the differentiation between the SCAF and the military, thereby tarring the latter with the brush of the former. The present rumblings of discontent among junior officers, Chief of Staff General Sami Anan’s greater popularity than the Field Marshal in the military and among Egyptians as a whole, and intensified pressure from the US could all result in the Field Marshal sharing President Mubarak’s fate. The military institution could remove him to save itself. If matters became truly desperate, discontented officers not in SCAF might decide that a coup within the coup would be the best way to save the honor of the country and their institution.”

By seeking to retain power and control over the transition process, the Field Marshal is playing a very dangerous game that threatens both the military’s and the nation’s well-being. He should have another look at that polling data.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Open Letter to My Oppressors

To my oppressors,

I am the oppressed. I am one you’ve trampled upon and think you own, but I am not one that will stay silent. I am the voice you want to suppress, kill, torture and imprison. I am the voice calling for liberty against your desire to keep enslaved. I am the voice you loathe that dares ask to be treated as an equal, the voice you despise for rising up because you think yourself the master. I am a voice part of a repressed generation whose lives you stole, whose wealth you hijacked whose freedom you took and whose eyes you’ve blinded. I am the voice that screams your ugly deeds to be muted to whispers amidst your rowdy lies. I am the voice that speaks a truth merely stumbled upon in books, streets and dominions beyond your control. I know this voice is one you want to silence forever.

I write to you forgetting your ugly horrible deeds of torture, murder, treason and manipulation. I write to you forgetting that you do not listen and cannot listen. I write to you forgetting your hatred of my very existence and your thirst to destroy me. To you, I am an expendable waste of space but a nuisance nonetheless. I write to you forgetting that such words will never reach you whether you read them or not.

My message to you is this. Stop what you are doing. These are real lives you are destroying, these are real people whose lives you are taking. These are real people you’ve imprisoned, these are real people you’ve hurt. I know that they seem remote to you, like enemies or lesser beings, but think upon them with the love you may have for your children or your families. Have you not that much love in you to see how they too can be loved? Do you not see the extent of the damage you have done and are doing to other human beings? Have you become too selfish and too self-involved to have any kind of sympathy?

I do not ask you to consider your acts before God. Men like you are beyond any to moral derivation of any sort. I ask of you to think of the little love you have left inside you in order to relate to humanity. You are beyond redemption perhaps, but even men who are beyond redemption have some sort of humanity inside to battle this hatred you have for others.

Look beyond your selfish love for your own and understand it could be your children in those jails or your friends run over by armored carriers. Understand that it could have been your daughters stripped and humiliated by soldiers. We are bound to one another as human beings and there is no room today for the illusion that you own another human being.

You old men, what will you reap but your deeds? Your grave is near and your days are numbered. No one knows if the next world brings nothing or retribution. But even if there is nothing beyond this life, you will only leave behind an evil legacy.

My oppressors, my killers, my wardens, I forgot your titles and addressed you as human beings. I send those words out to the human inside you that ceased to exist. I send them out with love, a concept you’ve long dismissed. I dropped my resentment for this brief instant. Why have you built a wall of hatred between us? I would tear that wall down instantly if it were up to me. This wall of your making and the choice has always been yours. The hatred you sow, you’ll reap.

Never yours,

The Oppressed

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Egypt's Proportional List Seat Calculator

This is a proportional list seat calculation using the largest remainder method. This calculates how list seats are allocated in Egypt's 2011 elections.

Enter the number of seats in contention in the desired district, enter the number of votes for each list and then press calculate to see the number of seats won.

Seats in Contention: Calculate

List Name


Seats Won

Freedom and Justice
Egyptian Bloc
Revolution Continues
Egypt National
Democratic Peace
Reform and Development
Egypt The Revolution
Egyptian Citizen
Modern Egypt
Ghad (Tomorrow)
Arab Democratic Nasserist
Egyptian Revolution
The New Independents
Constitutional Social Free


Limitations This does not implement the nationwide constraint of 0.5%. Results may not be accurate when the exact same number of votes are entered.

Disclaimer: This is an unofficial list seat calculator. The official results should be the same however this software has not been fully tested and there may be some discrepancy with the final results due to the aforementioned limitations.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Are Elections Free and Fair?

I mentioned earlier that these parliamentary elections were illegitimate. All that led us to these elections has been illegitimate and in any case, the upcoming parliament will be crippled. The parliament has no constitutional powers and will end up either being impotent or an arm of the SCAF.

(Photo: Mohamed Abd El-Ghany / Reuters)

The true catastrophe isn’t that they’re not legitimate but that even if they were, they would not be free and fair. There are many reasons why the current elections violate the criteria for ‘free and fair’. I will try pointing out a few.

Media Bias
No fair elections can take place with a corrupt media that solely serves regime interests. This means that the regime will always interfere in what is available to the public and the media will be mobilized by the regime’s covert deals. This means elections are not free since some parties are targeted and not fair since some are ignored.

When the police force is at the full force of its brutality just before elections, it creates an atmosphere that is not conducive to elections. Yet at the same time, this brutal police force kept the peace just for elections to take place.

Election Laws
Egyptians were never consulted as to how elections should be carried out. The decisions were always dictated by the SCAF. It is ironic that the laws that should bring about respect for the people disregarded and in some cases disrespected people’s will.
The laws themselves have been disrespected. A party like El Nour should not have been allowed to form because no parties based on religion should have been formed. That one party should be exempted is not fair.

Distribution of Districts
On what basis was the distribution of districts? Analyst have attributed this to the SCAF’s bias that some parties win. Even state owned Akhbar Al Youm’s Mohamed Omar pointed out that these districts were to appease the Islamists.

Foreign Funding
There is a limit to how much should be spent on a campaign that clearly has not been observed. There is a lot of funding from Saudi Arabia and from Qatar to fund the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis. When hundreds of millions of dollars are poured into campaigns the chances of fair elections are not that high. Such funding is not looked into at all while all funding to NGOs for example is strictly monitored. Such double standards tear down the concept of fairness completely.

Lack of Information + Campaigning Outside Poll Stations
Each of these alone is enough to cast doubt on fairness. The lack of information means that the elections mean nothing. How can one choose a representative when they don’t know their choices? The lack of information combined with campaigning outside the poll stations is probably the most monumental problem with these elections, particularly with the 500 LE fine.

Fraud and Violations
Although it looks like a landslide victory that doesn’t change the result, the truth is far from it. Contrary to some opinions a few thousand votes could change the results in the list system.  The violations are an indication to the kind of elections Egypt is undertaking. The results are secondary.

Military Trials
This may seem inconsequential, but when 12,000 people are tried by military courts mostly protesters, and when activists are targeted by the regime, the elections become neither free nor fair. It’s not only that the votes of those in prison have been detracted, but to insist that activists are harassed means chopping off an arm to alternate media and movements that could have been working on campaigning for elections. While we fight for those imprisoned, tortured and killed, other parties campaign for a place in an illegitimate parliament.
There is a rebuttal for every one of these reasons. They are things like, this happens everywhere, this will not affect the final result, this is an exaggeration, etc… They can all be valid, but they’re very weak because they will be in denial of the true environment in which these elections are being held. We are being ruled by an illegitimate body that has disrespected our votes in a referendum earlier. No fairness exists in this body; no freedom is possible under this body.

A junta that does not respect a human’s life will not respect his vote.

Friday, December 02, 2011

How are seat winners determined in the Egyptian Elections?

A guide to the rules of Egypt’s 2011 elections and how the seats are allocated to individuals and lists. 
Source: Ahram Online

Vote counting in Egypt's 2011 elections (Photo:Reuters)

The new system in Egypt’s 2011 elections may seem overwhelming to those trying to figure out how the winners will be calculated. The introduction of the list system and calculations using the ‘largest remainder’ method has been a cause for confusion. Also, in the individual system, voters can now vote for any two candidates as opposed to one professional and one worker/farmer. Ahram Online examines the various rules involved in determining the winners of the elections.

How individual winners are determined per district
Each district will have two seats to be awarded to two candidates. At least one of them must be a worker/farmer.

In the first round a candidate may win a seat by getting a number of votes greater than 50% of the total number of ballots (50% +1 vote).  Meaning if a total of 10,000 voters cast their ballots correctly, a candidate would have to get 5001 votes to win a seat.

Since every voter must choose two candidates, each ballot contains two votes. This means the total number of votes made available by 10,000 voters will be 20,000 votes. It is then possible for two candidates to each win 5001 votes in the first round. Two candidates winning 5001 votes or more can secure seats in parliament without a runoff, provided one of them is a worker/farmer.

Candidates unable to secure a seat by garnering the necessary votes go to the second round or runoffs.

Runoffs and the 50% worker/farmers rule
The following are the different cases for which there is a runoff, either no candidates won or one of them did.
  • If no candidate managed to secure the total number of votes, then the runoffs will include the top two professionals and the top two workers.
  • If the winner in the first round was a professional, the top two worker/farmer candidates compete in a second round.
  • If the first winner was a worker/farmer, the next two candidates with the highest votes compete in a second round irrespective of their category
  • If two candidates were elected in the first round and were both professional then only the one with the highest number of votes will be chosen and the top two   worker/farmer candidates will compete in a second round.

How list winners are determined per district 
Each district will have several seats to be distributed to the lists participating in the district. A single district may have four, six, eight, ten or 12 seats.

How are lists ordered?
Lists are ordered so that no two consecutive professionals appear on the list. Any candidate can be placed on the top of the list.

Seat Cost
In each district there are a number of seats assigned to it for lists. Each seat has a cost in the number of votes. This cost is determined as the total number of votes divided by the number of seats. For example if there are 100,000 votes for 4 seats, the cost of 1 seat would be 25,000 votes. If there are 8 seats, the cost of one seat would be12,500 votes.

Let’s take the example of one seat costing 25,000 votes. If one list receives over 25,000 votes it will be granted one seat. If a list receives over 50,000 votes, it receives 2 seats.

What about fractions of a seat?
Fractions of the full cost of a seat follow certain rules determined by a system called the largest remainder. In its simplest form, after all the whole seat quotas (e.g. 25,000) has been deducted from the total number of votes for each party,  the largest number of votes remaining for any of the lists receives a seat.

Total number of valid votes: 100,000
Number of seats in district: 4
Cost of one seat = Total Number of Valid Votes / Number of seats = 25,000

6 lists, 4 seats in contention
List Name
Seats Won
The Revolution Continues
Freedom and Justice
The Egyptian Bloc

Because the revolution continues got more than the quota or cost for one seat, it is awarded a seat. The rest of the parties did not get enough votes to secure one seat. So where do the remaining three seats go? They go to the largest remainders after the full votes for a complete seat are subtracted.

The three largest remainders are: Freedom and Justice Party (23k), Al-Wasat (17k) and Revolution Continues (15k).

The three seats go to the three largest remainders.

Nationwide Constraints
In order for a list to be eligible to win any of the seats, a list must have won at least 0.5% of the nationwide valid votes.

How are seats allocated within the list?
The general rule is that each list has an ordered list of candidates. The candidates chosen on the list are by order. The candidates on the list win the seat according to their order within a list. If for example a list wins three seats, then the first three on the list have seats in parliament.

50% worker/farmer rule
The exception to this rule is when the professionals that will be in parliament are more than 50%. In this case, one of the lists will have to skip the professional and give the seat to the next worker/farmer on the list. The list that will have to suffer this is the one with the least ‘coefficient’.

A ‘coefficient’ is calculated as = total number of valid ballots / number of seats won by list.

Who is a worker?
A worker is a person who depends mainly on his income from his manual or mental work. He shall be a member of a trade union and holds a high academic qualification.

Who is a farmer?
A farmer is an individual whose sole profession and main income is through farming, lives in the countryside and does not own more than 10 feddans of land.

Nationwide Numbers for Peoples’ Assembly
  • Number of elected individual seats: 166 (1/3 of total seats)
  • Number of elected list seats: 332 (2/3 of total seats)
  • Total Number of elected seats: 498
  • Percentage of seats that must be allocated to farmers/workers: At least 50 %
Electoral Districts/Constituencies
  • Total number of electoral districts / constituencies for lists: 46
  • Total number of electoral districts / constituencies for individuals: 83
Seats per district/constituency for lists
  • 15 districts have four seats
  • One district has six seats
  • 19 districts have eight seats
  • Nine districts have 10 seats
  • Two districts have 12 seats