Weak turnout as Egyptians vote on final day of parliamentary polls

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Few Egyptians were showing up on Monday to vote in the final day of parliamentary elections that are expected to be led by backers of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi.

State television showed footage of small numbers of voters casting their ballots in several parts of the country, anticipating turnout to pick up pace at noon when employees end their reduced work day.

The government has given its employees a half day off to bolster weak voter turnout on Sunday, the first day in the second and final round of the polls.

State and private broadcasters loyal to the government were airing patriotic songs urging voters to go to the polls.

Non-governmental monitoring group Maat said turnout in the first hours of polling Monday was lower than that Sunday in many polling stations.

Unofficial balloting on Sunday ranged from 13 per cent to 21 per cent of registered voters in 14 of Egypt’s 27 provinces covered by the second stage of the election, according to private TV station al-Hayat.

The first round was held in 13 provinces last month, when turnout was sluggish.

These are the first parliamentary elections since 2013 when the army, then led by al-Sissi, deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi following massive protests against his rule.

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and allied Islamist forces have called on their backers to boycott the polls, saying they are undemocratic.

Observers have also reported apathy among many potential young voters, disillusioned with the government’s policy.

The first phase saw supporters of al-Sissi in the electoral alliance For Love of Egypt make a clean sweep of the 60 seats elected by a list system.

The only Islamist party on the ballot, the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party, won 10 seats in the first stage. In the previous legislature, Nour held a quarter of the seats.

About 28.2 million Egyptians are eligible to vote in the second round, which ends at 9 pm (1900 GMT).

Official final results of this round are expected in early December, after any necessary run-offs are completed.

Egypt has been without a parliament since mid-2012, when the country’s top court invalidated the Islamist-led legislature, saying it had been elected on faulty rules.

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