Sunday, May 26, 2013

#Egyelections : Army and Police to Vote and the debate goes on

Yesterday the Supreme constitutional court “SCC” has ruled out for the first time that the army and police personnel can vote in the Egyptian elections and referendums.
This court rule is based upon the constitution issued and approved last year by 64% specifically the following article 55 :
Army and police in the latest referendum
It is a national duty for citizens to participate in public life. Every citizen has the right to vote, run for election, and express his opinion through a referendum. The law specifies these rights.The state commits itself to entering each citizen who is eligible to vote into the voter registry without requiring an application.The state guarantees the peacefulness and integrity of referenda and elections. State organs that interfere in these processes with the goal of influencing them are committing crimes punishable by law.
Other articles the court mentioned in its reasoning : 
Article 33
The citizens enjoy equality before the law. They have identical rights and public duties. There is no discrimination among them.
Article 64
Work constitutes a right, a duty, and an honor for every citizen. The state guarantees it on the basis of equality, justice, and equality of opportunity.Forced labor is permissible only to the extent stipulated by law.The public servant works to serve the People; the state awards government employment to citizens according to merit, without favoritism. Any deviation from this is a crime punishable by law.The state guarantees every worker’s right to a fair income and vacation days. It also guarantees pensions, social security, health care, protection against occupational hazards, the availability of safety provisions in the work place, in accordance with the law.Workers may only be fired under circumstances that are specified by law.Peaceful strike is a right, regulated by law.
In other simple words the court ruling depends on the fundamental rights of citizenship and equality as long as there is no clear article that says the army and police personnel are not allowed to participate as voters in the elections and referendums as in past constitutions like in constitution 1971.
In that constitution of 1971 it is clearly says that the citizens allowed to vote according to the regulating laws aka The political rights and elections laws then. It seems that
This is not the first time we have this debate after the 25 January revolution if you remember but this time we got a constitutional court historical ruling. According to the Armed forces in the Wikipedia , there are 468,500 men currently serving. If we add the police to them , then we are speaking about a voting bloc not less than 500,000.
Of course it created a new controversy with supporters and opponents from both sides.
At first I did not understand the position of the Muslim brotherhood because I found Ahmed Rushdie , the famous MB tweep online who is close Presidency extremely happy yesterday announcing that he will be the first volunteer in the Freedom and Justice party campaigns in police stations and military barracks. 
Yet today the position of the Freedom and Justice appeared clearly. Mourad Ali , the official media adviser said the following statement published on the party’s official Facebook Page :
The Constitutional court demand to let the military participate in the elections as voter is strange and raises a lot of questions as if someone was insisting to drag the police and army in the political struggle in any possible way. Is it demanded to transfer the polarization to the military units ? Is there a sane person who accepts to have partisan campaigns in the barracks ? Is it acceptable to have a police officer or an army officer in the elections campaign for one the parties ? For God sake wake up and do not push the army into politics because it has got other scared mission.
This view is supported by the Muslim brotherhood’s current allies in Al Wasat Party and Development and reconstruction party of the Al Gama’a Al Islamiyaa.
Essam Sultan of Al Wasat Party believes that the Constitutional court will destroy the army. Tarek El Zoomer of Al Gama’a Al Islamiyaa attacked the court as well.
In brief the SCC managed to mess with the voters base in Egypt and to threat the neutrality of police and army needed for fair elections.
Amazingly these Islamist parties are angry from the court ruling which is based upon the constitution that they wrote and supported.
Of course not all those opposing this ruling as Islamists or Pro-Muslim brotherhood supporters. There are other reasons for those people other than the fued between the MB and the SCC as well the MB and army from another hand.
Many of those opposing that right of army and police to vote believe that their votes as a bloc would directed to the supreme commander of the police and army aka the President and his ruling party. That team believes there will be no free will for the officers and soldiers and that they will follow the orders simply as that.
Of course the Pro-civilian state believe that the military and police vote will support only the military candidates like Ahmed Shafik or any other candidate with military background regardless his views and his platform.
Another dilemma where the officers and soldiers especially in the army will vote and whether their polling stations will be under the jurisdiction of normal judiciary or military judiciary aka judicial supervision.
Of course there is another fear as by bringing politics and polarization to the Egyptian army destroying its unity over time like Syrian army and Iraqi army.
Still there are people who believe that it is actually a good thing to give the police and the army their right to vote.
Hafez Abu Saeeda , the head of the Egyptian organization for Human rights tweeted the following :
One of the most important features in citizenship is the right to vote the executive and legislative authorities and there is no rule to prohibit any sector from voting
 Liberal politician Amr Hamzawy is also supporting the right of the army and police personnel to vote because this is democracy.
This is valid point. Like any other citizens the officers and soldiers have the right to choose their representatives as any other Egyptian citizen.
Personally I believe all Egyptians should have the right and in the end the army and the police are made of Egyptian citizens. I think in established democracy they have the right to vote but again in established democracy not in struggling democracies in Egypt. It is like a dilemma because established democracies also are built through representations. Already I googled for awhile and I found that it is quite controversial. In fact there is going on debate about it in India , the biggest democracy in the world.
There are lot of fear and mistrust and here I am not referring to the MB and their supporters but to the civilian pro-revolutionaries who got their own concerns that I presented in this post. We are in a very critical time in Egypt , polarization is in its climax. The last thing I want now is divisions in the army due to political polarization 
Nevertheless it is an important debate as well another round of the complicated relation between the current ruling regime or rather the Muslim brotherhood and the army.
On the other hand the SCC has rejected another 4 articles in the proposed elections law once again making it unconstitutional.
By the way for foreign readers , I would like to hear your point of view.


  1. Every citizen has the right to vote.In America only convicted felons lose the right.

  2. The first two times I voted, I was in the US military. In the US, active duty military personnel are prohibited by law from participating in any political activities, so campaigning should not be an issue. Troops can't attend political events such as rallies, nor are politicians permitted on military bases to campaign. As far as the actual voting, when I was in we were all issued paper "absentee" ballots to vote by mail based on our home address (rather than our military address). It really was quite easy. They passed the ballots out in the afternoon and anyone who wanted to vote filled them out, put them in the envelope, and walked over to the nearest mailbox (or maildrop) and deposited them.

    I think it's always been done that way, and the only problems I've ever heard of are politicians trying to get the military votes excluded before they were counted. Al Gore famously tried that in Florida in the 2000 election.

    Anyway, that process works well, here. Whether that would work in Egypt or whether or not anyone could tamper with the vote if it was done that way in Egypt, you'd probably know better than I.

  3. Restricting army personel from voting is common only (ironically enough) in military dictatorships! Most democracies (stable or not) allow their military personel to vote, because otherwise it would be depriving them of their right as citizens.
    As for restricting the Police, that is very rare, and so far the only countries I know of that do (or did) that is Egypt and Indonesia!

    The thing is, there needs to be laws preventing political advertising in police stations and military areas, and strict laws punishing any member of the armed forces or the police who talks about politics or promotes a certain political party in his place of work, or belongs to any political party or view.

    The only time when the army will be in danger of splitting is if the above laws aren't implemented, and judging by the MBs gameplans in the past, they almost never do what is universally the correct way to do it, they always do their own thing and it always blows up in their faces, and in this case, it might be on purpose. They have by far committed the most violations during the elections by advertising outside of polling stations and pushing people to vote for their candidates inside the stations without any punishment, there is no reason to think they will conduct their campaigns without violations with Police and Army personnel this time either.

    The right to VOTE has nothing to do with practicing politics. This is a common misinterpretation of basic civil rights. But we need laws to govern it, and with the MB in charge its difficult to imagine they will implement proper ones.

  4. It is pretty funny to find liberals (like hamzawy or abose'da) defending the the military voting!
    So we went from down-down-military to yeah-baby-yeah-military!

  5. As a foreigner

    Bottom line is Egyptians have a long way to go in learning and practising honesty. This is fundamental in the voting process.
    Secondly every citizen should be allowed to vote and that includes army police and felons in prisons.
    All campaigning must stop 48 hours before any election and that must be rigorously upheld and any violations must have swift charges brought against them and punishment as a deterent.
    Sadly the majority of Egyptians who in fact are Muslims are the most dishonest people I have ever known on every level, every class and every age.
    I have no idea what is being taught in the mosques of Egypt but it sure as hell isn't Islam.


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