Egyptian referendum on constitution voted on by few, and represents even fewer

With turnout at 30% and a strong no vote, the ordinary people of Egypt have expressed serious reservations about the draft constitution tabled by the ruling majority in the Constituent Assembly. The referendum process, rushed through by President Mohamed Morsi, was conducted over the last two weeks and saw only 20% of the population give support to the proposals drawn up with little consultation. The mood in the country is one of distrust and apathy, reports say.

Speaking on the developments, Party of European Socialists (PES) President, Sergei Stanishev, stated that; “This referendum on the draft constitution was voted on by very few, and will represent even fewer. An opportunity to build democracy with the support of all Egyptian people has today regretfully been missed. After this referendum process, there is an obligation to look into all alleged irregularities and address shortcomings where such claims are confirmed. It is now crucial to avoid further divisions and polarisation and to ensure an environment conducive to dialogue and consensus in the period leading up to the parliamentary elections”.

Hannes Swoboda, President of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group in the European Parliament, said: “After this Referendum, which did not give clear support for the President and the present government, there is still a chance to vote for a more balanced and representative Parliament as an expression of the new democratic life in Egypt”.

The PES and S&D Group, with the Global Progressive Forum, will hold a major conference in Cairo with regional social democratic parties. The Conference will take place on 19-20 January. These forces hope to give visible support to local progressive forces.

Opposition groups have indicated their concerns about the process by which the referendum was carried out. They have also indicated that the content of the text will not allow democratic principles to flourish, as significant sections of society would be excluded on the grounds of religion.

The Progressive parties have called for urgent efforts to create a more inclusive political environment ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections. Under the new constitutional provisions the elections are due to take place in the next two months.