Low turnout in Egypt's long-awaited parliamentary election

About 10 percent of the country's more than 50 million registered voters have cast their ballot.

A woman casts her ballots as she votes on October 17, 2015, on the eve of Egypt's parliamentary elections at the Egyptian Embassy in central London. Egyptian voters head to the polls on October 18 with one party, the banned Muslim Brotherhood, conspicuously absent from ballot papers in the country's long-delayed parliamentary elections, the first since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and was elected to succeed him last year. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - The first day of Egypt's two-part parliamentary election has been marked by a low turnout.

About 10 percent of the country's more than 50 million registered voters have cast their ballot.

Young people seem to be staying away from the poll that will deliver Egypt's first parliament since June 2012.

More than half the Egyptians are under 25.

And they don't appear to be turning out for parliamentary elections in 14 of the country's 27 governorates.

Vomiting continues for a second day today.

The second stage will be in late November.

Young voters say the 568-member parliament they return will be heavily loaded in favour of President Abdel Fatah El Sisi.

Which is why they see little point in casting their ballots.


Sisi faces a multitude of challenges, including widespread poverty, an energy crisis, high unemployment and attacks by militants which have killed hundreds of soldiers and police since Mursi's fall and hurt the vital tourism industry.

He secured support from other opposition groups for ousting Mursi by promising a prompt parliamentary vote. The elections, repeatedly postponed, will now take place over two rounds on 18-19 October and 22-23 November.

This week, voters cast their ballots in 14 regions including Egypt's second city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast and Giza, a province which includes parts of Cairo west of the Nile.

Critics say an electoral system that puts the emphasis on individuals is a throwback to Mubarak-era politics, which favoured candidates with wealth and connections over parties with clear ideological agendas or policy platforms.

"Being a member of parliament for many is a chance to be close to government. It's like joining the government club," said Khaled Dawoud, who recently resigned as spokesman for the Destour Party and Democratic Current electoral alliance.

"You don't join parliament to oppose the government."

The unicameral parliament will comprise 568 elected members - 448 elected on an individual basis and 120 through winner-takes-all lists in four districts with quotas for women, Christians and youth. The president may also appoint a further five percent.

Run-offs will take place in districts where no clear winner has emerged, with the final results expected in December.

"For the Love of Egypt", an alliance of loyalist parties and politicians, is running for all 120 list seats and is expected to do well.

An alliance of socialist opposition parties that had been due to contest the list seats eventually pulled out, leaving the field dominated by Sisi loyalists.

The Islamist Nour Party, which seeks to impose strict Sharia law and came second in the last election, will take part. However, it has lost much support among Islamists since endorsing Mursi's overthrow.

Speculation is already rife that the constitution will be amended to curb parliament's wide-ranging powers and concentrate authority in the hands of Sisi.

"It is hard to tell how serious such talk is, but at a minimum it delegitimises the parliament before it has even been elected," said Nathan Brown, professor at George Washington University.

Additional reporting by Reuters