Switch to Desktop Site
 
 

As Libyans fight, Egyptians revel in first free vote for decades

Amid the exuberance, however, election monitors reported significant irregularities and violations, a reminder that the road to democratic governance is not as easy as Egyptians might hope.

Image

Egyptian women vote at a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, on a referendum on constitutional amendments, Saturday. The referendum gives Egypt's 40 million voters their first taste of a free vote in decades, but also poses the first major challenge to the country's transition to democracy after decades of authoritarian rule.

Amr Nabil/AP

About these ads

Egyptians flooded the polls Saturday like a wave that had been unleashed after half a century, eager to participate in a referendum that marked the first time many felt their votes had ever mattered.

Long lines formed outside polling stations all day, providing a marked contrast to the empty voting centers in fraudulent elections held last year, and reflecting the national excitement at the opportunity to have a say in Egypt’s future after former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising last month. The outcome of the referendum on constitutional amendments will shape the transition period over the next year.

Yet amid the exuberance, election monitors reported significant irregularities and violations, a reminder that the road to democratic governance is not as easy as Egyptians might hope, and large challenges loom ahead. Still, many voters were hopeful that their country was on its way toward a better future.

“I feel happy, I feel like a true Egyptian today,” says Nagwa Helmy Khalil, a middle-aged woman standing in line in the Cairo’s Nasr City neighborhood. She says she was voting for the first time in her life. “It's the first time I feel my voice will be heard. It's the first time I’ve participated because I feel it's real. There is hope, there is change.”

What the vote was about

Next

Page 1 of 5

Share