Monday, 21 March 2011

77% say “yes” – Tahrir says “no” – Is this the End of the Revolution?

When I left the house early in the morning, I was surprised that the big metal chain on the front door of the building which used to protect the inhabitants against possible assaults from the side of the baltagiyya had suddenly gone. People were cleaning the sidewalks, dogs running down the empty streets and the worn out propaganda posters slightly moving in the wind. The country seemed back to normal.
In the afternoon, the men gathered in coffee shops to watch soccer. The weekly paper at-Tariq depicted next to the big “no to the constitutional reform” –the “no” of which was composed as a collage out of the revolutionary martyrs’ pictures– a photograph of a soccer player. The nation, therefore, seemed to start to remember its heroes of pre-revolutionary times.
Later in the day, the result of the referendum reached the Egyptian public. The constitutional reform was passed by 77%. Even though, on Friday, the propaganda for a “no,” on the Tahrir Square, had been considerable, the Egyptian citizens accepted the proposed reform of their Norma Normarum. Did they follow the extremists of the political panorama who were all propagating a “yes” at the ballot boxes?
Different Egyptians explained to me that they were afraid not to have a constitution. Others mentioned that they wanted to force the army to hand over politics to a civil government as fast as possible. And some citizens also stated that they just wanted their lives to go back to normal again. There were also Egyptians who were not sure about what to vote but, at the same time, they felt the importance of proceeding to the polling stations in order to show their will to participate in the building process of a democracy. As there was no option for handing in a blank vote, they had to side with the absolute options “yes” or “no.” It is also important to consider that the votes of the enormous quantity of Egyptians living abroad were missing, as they had no opportunity to participate in the referendum. The outcome must therefore not be simply qualified as a success of the extremists and/or the conservatives over the liberals.
People seemed to accept the result. Only a very small crowd gathered on the Tahrir Square around 11pm with posters denouncing the voting process and demanding the decline of the planned constitutional reform.

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