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Egypt's opposition still hopeful, despite many defeats

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Rejecting political games

But there are also those who say the opposition has only itself to blame for its failure to chip away at the electoral successes of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Many people wanted to vote no in the referendum about the constitution, but they were looking for a good reason to do so,” says Fady Ramzy, who runs the think tank Messry. “The problem is that the opposition doesn’t have a political product to sell. They should have spent their time convincing people that this constitution is [a waste] for any number of reasons, and that we should do a better job. Because what we have now is just a bunch of nice words with no mechanism to hold those in power to the promises contained in the constitution. Instead, the opposition chose to make a lot of noise about the influence of sharia in the new constitution.”

Mr. Ramzy’s assertion was echoed by voters in some of the districts in the Nile Delta last week. Most Egyptians voting "yes" cited a desire for stability as their main reason, while most "no" voters had very specific reasons to be against the constitution. Among them were the absence of a minimum wage in Egypt –wages are instead linked to productivity – or the fact that free health care is subject to a "certificate of poverty," which many see as humiliating.

Not a single voter cited the role of sharia, or Islamic law, as a reason to vote either for or against the document, despite the fact that both sides had campaigned mainly on this issue.

“The religious factor is decreasing with every election,” says Ramzy. “People realize that political games are being played with religion, and they are starting to refuse being put before the choice of voting for or against Islam.”

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