Mapping the Egyptian Presidential Election

Egyptians went to the polls on Wednesday and Thursday to vote in the first open and genuinely contested election for president in Egypt’s history. Around 22 million Egyptians, about 40% of all registered voters, cast ballots for the twelve candidates in this first round. The counts from the 27 governorates were released over the course of the day on Friday, which played out as an unfolding horse race. The smaller city and rural governorates announced their final counts earlier on, but Cairo and Giza, which comprised 25% of all votes cast, did not announce their results until the evening. While preliminary counts correctly pegged the runoff candidates as Freedom and Justice Party (Muslim Brotherhood) head Muhammad Morsi and former Air Force chief and Mubarak’s last PM Ahmad Shafiq, leftist Hamdeen Sabahi did far better than expected, leading to confused announcements of his “leap” to second place candidate after Sabahi won 600,000 votes in Alexandria in mid-afternoon.

The final results for the five front runners from all governorates as aggregated by Al-Ahram are as follows:

Mursi, 5,553,097

Shafiq, 5,210,978

Sabahi, 4,739,983

Ex-Muslim Brother ʿAbd el-Moneim Abou’l Fotouh, 3,936,264

Former Foreign Minister and Arab League head ʿAmr Moussa, 2,407,837

The voting data at the governorate and even polling station level will be absolutely crucial for the Mursi and Shafiq camps in the coming three weeks of campaigning for the runoff vote on June 16 and 17. Because Egypt is a security state and no nationwide poll of mass political preference has ever been allowed, these figures also provide a fascinating look at the large differences in political opinion and ideology across the country. While voting behavior and personal identity are particularly scrambled for Egyptians living through a chaotic transition from an authoritarian state, the maps I drew up while waiting for the results to come out yesterday show distinct geographical variations. The following four maps depict the top four individual candidates’ share of the vote in each governorate. First, a reminder of the names and locations of the governorates:

Muhammad Mursi did best in rural areas, specifically the “middle Egypt” governorates of Beni Suef, Fayoum, Minya, Asyut and Sohag which have long been the base of the Salafi movement in Egypt. This indicates that despite the Salafi Nour party’s endorsement of Aboul’l Fotouh, a great number of Salafis voted for the Brotherhood candidate. Mursi also did better than his average in Giza, Beheira, Sharqiya and Ismailiya, the founding city of the Brotherhood. Although he did not score less than 15% in any governorate, which indicates the social and geographic breadth of the Brotherhood party machine, he did the worst in the major cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said, as well as the Red Sea and South Sinai governorates, where the economy relies heavily on foreign tourists who may be frightened off by a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government. Who wants to sit on the beach without a beer…?

ʿAbdel Moneim Abou’l Fotouh is a Muslim Brotherhood activist and former head of the Doctor’s Syndicate who had long been at odds with the leadership of the group over their conservative/collaborative political strategy towards the old regime, and broke with them last year to run for president when they announced they would not run a candidate for president. He pumped up his prospective support by wooing the liberal revolutionary youth and moderating his Islamist ideology in his public discourse. He underperformed the high expectations of the past few weeks, and the map shows that Mursi ate into his support in all rural areas.

Hamdeen Sabbahi outperformed all expectations to win 22% of the vote, including 34% of Alexandria, 30% of Cairo and 63% of his native Kafr el-Shaykh, fell 4.5 million votes short of Shafiq for second place. It appeares he captured the imagination of urban residents and workers who had no other leftist candidate to support, and his credentials and long opposition to the NDP regime gave him the credibility to capture this sentiment.

Ahmad Shafiq’s second place showing (I am leaving Amr Moussa out because he received only 10%) was the big negative surprise for the liberal and revolutionary camps. News reports of exit interviews contained overwhelming evidence of his surge, especially among Copts in cities and Upper Egypt who fear an Islamist state, and the remnants (“felool”) of the NDP party who, obviously, did not rally to ʿAmr Moussa. Shafiq has not wasted any time in alienating the Tahrir constituency, pre-emptively declaring he’ll respond to any protests of his presidency with harsh measures.

I continued mapping out further vote breakdowns in anticipation of run-off strategies. The combinations below are all very speculative, particularly because every indication is that the turnout for the second round will be far lower — many Egyptians will not vote for either Morsy or Shafiq.

This map shows the proportion of Morsy and Abou’l Fotouh’s vote added together; nationwide, they took 9.5 million votes or 43%. This combination had an outright majority in the small (non-tourist) desert areas, Beheira, Fayoum, Beni Souef, Minya and Asyut, but it did not crack one third in Sabbahi’s Kafr el Shaykh, Shafiq’s Menoufiya or Cairo, which went strongly for both of those candidates. If this coalition holds, presuming more Abou’l Fotouh supporters come out to vote for Morsi because they support Islamist policy goals than liberal supporters who will stay home because they don’t want the Brotherhood machine in charge, they only need 7% more of the electorate to vote AGAINST EVERYONE ELSE to make a majority. A Sabbahi voter’s decision to vote for Morsi will have to be the result of very ideosyncratic reasoning; Alaa Al-Aswany has already thrown his support to Morsi, and surely others will too. But even if everyone who voted for Sabbahi stayed at home, it would take more than half of Abou’l Fotouh supporters to also abstain to throw the election to Shafiq, and only if Shafiq gets ALL Moussa voters. Morsi has the advantage.

This map combines the result for Shafiq and Moussa which was 7.5 m or 35% on the national level. This is also a tenuous political combo, despite both men coming from high positions in the former government and standing for a secular, status quo restoration of sorts. Many liberals who voted for Moussa may not want to vote for Shafiq. At any rate, I wonder if this map reveals a pattern of regional NDP patronage. Certainly the military was involved in a lot of the tourism development in Upper Egypt, the Red Sea and Sharm el Shaykh, and Mubarak’s familial connection to Menoufiya explains the strength of the vote turnout there (at 58%, the only majority-Feloul governorate). I think Sharqiya also has a large number of military factories and installations (dating to World War II, naturally), but I have no information about this on hand. Fayoum and the desert areas, which have been exploited and repressed under NDP rule, have naturally voted the least for Shafiq or Moussa.

This morning, I looked at the maps I had assembled and decided the large desert areas were slightly misleading, so I decided to draw up maps where area was proportional to votes cast, in a deformed-geography style common to electoral mapping.

A population-deformed map would show a similar bias towards cities and the delta, but in this map these areas are even larger because voter turnout was above the average 42% in these areas. Port Said saw 58% turnout, Alexandria 54%, Cairo 50% and Giza 48%. Remarkably, the southern delta governorates of Qalyubiya (50%, which also contains Cairo suburbs), Menoufiya (50%) and Sharqiya (48%) were all above average. In contrast all the below-average turnout areas came from Upper Egypt: Qena (24%), Luxor (28%), Sohag (28%), Aswan (29%), Asyut (33%), and Minya (35%). These areas have been economically stunted and today still suffer disproportionately from unemployment and shortages of food and cooking gas; there were reports of villages boycotting the vote for this purpose.

The resulting map with candidates’ shares ended up being a bit “busier” than I expected, but it captures the essence of the earlier maps pretty well. Shafiq dominates in the middle delta, Morsi in Upper Egypt, and Sabbahi in the cities.


About ericschewe

PhD, History. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
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