The British saying ‘pig in a poke’ could aptly be used to describe the state of the latest Egyptian elections.
The idiom arose from the Middle Ages when dodgy butchers would try and palm off low quality meat in a bag to an unsuspecting consumer who thought they were getting a real treat until they looked inside the poke (bag).
Weary Egyptians recognise these elections for what they are … a total sham and the 80 per cent plus who chose not to vote have, in effect, destroyed Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s moral legitimacy as a democratically elected leader.
I cringed and winced as the Egyptian regime bullied, bribed, cajoled and threatened the country’s voters to get out to the polling stations to cast their vote. There were even threats of fines being imposed for those who chose to stay at home. Once again Sisi and his goons tried to use force in the name of democracy.
When voting was extended to a third day Sisi began to look like a desperate man, and so he should with only a 12 per cent turnout.
I felt embarrassed for Hamdeen Sabbahi, who was the other presidential candidate in a race no one else wanted to enter. It’s one thing being Sisi’s useful idiot but even Sabbahi did not want to become an international laughing stock and threatened to walk away when the polling stations remained open for a third day.
The European Union sent observers to monitor the elections but they remain silent over the shockingly low turnout which was estimated at below 12 per cent by the Arab Observatory for Rights and Freedoms.
So where are those tens of millions of Egyptians who the world was told wanted to see Mohammad Morsi kicked out of office? We know that more than 40,000 have been arrested since the military coup with more than half still languishing in prisons but even that does not account for the world’s worst election turnout.
According to the latest poll by the influential US-based research think tank Pew, nearly 40 percent of Egyptians still value the Muslim Brotherhood even though it is laughingly being branded as a terrorist organisation.
The outcome of the elections is predictable on two levels. Sisi will seize power on a trickle of votes compared to the tsunami of silent protests from the absent electorate – and the Egyptian people will have been short-changed by getting a leader the majority don’t want: a pig in a poke if you will and it doesn’t matter how much lip gloss is painted on this pig it will always remain what it is … a pig.
The irony is this farcical election will eventually pave the way for another revolution and another chance at democracy for the deserving Egyptians. My advice is don’t write off the freely democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi just yet.