The first free Egyptian election season will get seriously underway only after the feast of Eid Al Adha on Nov. 6-8. Voting will begin on Nov. 28 and continue through February, in three phases. Islamist parties are favored to get a plurality.
I spoke about the elections to residents of the Imbaba district – known for it political activism – as they shopped for the feast. The Imbaba marketplace was a cacophony of food and clothing stalls, butchers selling whole skinned lambs for the feats, with motorbikes and minicabs weaving precariously through the stalls and the crowd.
Many shoppers said they didn’t know who their candidates are – the election regulations are quite confusing and, except for the well-organized Muslim Brotherhood – most parties have yet to get their message out.
Most people said they would vote, but the overwhelming message was that they would choose the best local candidate irrespective of what party he/she came from.
In this conservative district there is no fear of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has long done charity work on the ground. Some shoppers said they would vote for Salafis because they were “good religious people.” When I noted that some Salafis had burned churches, the reply was that “those are fanatics, not normal Salafis.”
I left convinced that Islamists would do well here, not because the locals were extremists, but because the Islamist brand is well known and other parties have yet to get their message out.