Cairo Presidential Election Map: Shafiq’s Turf

Now things are getting interesting. Thanks to Evan Hill at Al-Jazeera Online who provided us all with his public spreadsheet of district-level results for the whole country on my Mursi post — I present you a map of the presidential election results in Cairo by neighborhood. It’s a big “bullseye” for Shafiq! (If wordpress.com is experiencing difficulty showing images please click HERE to see the map.)

Heeding the call from Middle East political scientist Ellis Goldberg for more analysis of local-level results, I cobbled together and traced maps of the Ministry of Interior qisms (أقسام) which are the basic police and government demographic local level administrative units in urban areas, on which to plot the data. Most of the voting districts corresponded to these units, but I have averaged and collapsed the result for larger areas like Medinat Nasr, where there were two voting districts for which I don’t know the boundaries. This map doesn’t show the entirety of Cairo Governorate. I scaled it to show the detail in the city’s historical core, but it encompasses about 90% of the 3.4 million votes cast. Unfortunately, Zamalek results are missing from this data — one imagines something blueish.

I don’t have precise population figures on hand, but from looking at the voting figures, Egypt (like many cities) has had a population shift from the old core of the city, from which the wealthy have moved to satellite suburbs just outside the area of map, while poor recent arrivals have crowded in to slums that ring the historical core. For example, in the qism of El-Muski (#10), between the old core of Fustat and the “modern” downtown built in the 19th century, only 16,951 votes were cast. In Al-Bassatin, which ironically means “orchards” because it used to be fruit and vegetable fields for Cairo before the land was illegally sold off for dense and unplanned five-to-ten story apartment slums in the 1980s, voters cast 117,812 ballots. The population density may be similar, but the inner areas have much more comprehensive government administration and services.

This map reveals many interesting overlapping patterns. At first glance, it shows a concentric core and periphery pattern with Shafiq support at the center gradually fading to Mursi support. Ironically, Qasr al-Nil district (#12), home of now-world-famous Tahrir Square, was the 4th-highest district-level result for Shafiq IN THE COUNTRY (out of a total of 350 electoral districts), netting him 75% of the vote! Then again, the news has been filled with the angry rants of shop owners in the square, whose livelihoods have been disrupted by persistent protesting for the past 18 months. The remainder of its residents are largely wealthy and well-connected apparatchiks, so it is logical the district went for Shafiq, who promised to end these protests quickly.

The concentric pattern more accurately shows the history of the growth of Cairo. With the exception of the medieval parts of the city Old Cairo (#18) and Fustat (#15 El-Gamaleya and #16 El-Darb El-Hamra), the darkest blue areas are the oldest. They were first built up in the 1860s-1880s, during the cotton-and-debt boom urban development of Khedive Ismaʿil. Slightly-less-blue Heliopolis, which was the first real upper-class tramway suburb of Cairo founded in 1905 by Belgian railway tycoon Eduard Louis Joseph, Baron Empain, follows these areas chronologically and so represents the exception to a perfect concentric formation.

The age of the housing stock maps onto wealth and social class, but not entirely perfectly. One assumes that Shafiq received more support from the wealthy and socially liberal/economically conservative, while Mursi received support from the lower classes and socially conservative Muslim pious. Among the other bluest areas, Al-Nozha is a more contemporary extension of the urban layout and socioeconomic residential level of Heliopolis. But Shubra (#5), Sahel (#1) and Rod El-Farag (#4), all relatively old areas, have declined in wealth and become densely populated areas. Anecdotally, these areas have large Christian populations that probably voted against the Muslim Brotherhood, but without official figures for population by religion, it is difficult to tell precisely how this influenced the totals. Old Cairo (#18), with several historic churches and the Coptic Museum, only cast 57% of its votes for Shafiq, less than the 59% governorate average, but it includes some of the newer slums mentioned above.

Fustat and Sayyida Zeynab are among the oldest neighborhoods in the city, but they declined in wealth and social prominence far before Shubra did. These areas all voted 60-65% for Shafiq, and they do not have a particularly Christian presence. It is important to stress that because of their history, their inhabitants are not homogeneously poor the way a slum like Al-Bassatin is. I think the difference in voter results may reflect the integration of a generations-old urban working class and petty bourgeoisie into the social and business patronage networks of the old regime, while again, the new slums on the periphery have first and second generation arrivals with no connections, from which the Brotherhood has made heavy recruits.

Finally, El-Maʿadi, which is the other major old-money railway suburb of Cairo gave barely half (51.6%) of its vote to Shafiq. Its qism also includes some slum areas to the north of the wealthy section, but this is a stark enough difference with Heliopolis to make me wonder whether some cultural differences are at work. There are enough jokes about how the older, genteel, liberal, Francophone Egyptian upper classes have retained their loyalty to Heliopolis, where the housing stock has largely remained the original Art Nouveau and Art Deco, while El-Maʿadi has evolved after the 1970s infitah (liberalization under Sadat) into a new-money haven where villas have been redeveloped into lavish apartments for Western and Gulf Arabs expats and Egyptians with Gulf connections who may have sympathy to the Brotherhood. Helwan, which is technically in Giza but was on the Cairo page only went 40% for Shafiq and in the electoral sense belongs already to the Upper Egypt surge for Mursi. There is an old historical core to this city, but it has also recently filled up with recent rural arrivals.

Plenty more could be said about this map and in analyses to come, so I encourage your comments!

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About ericschewe

PhD, History. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
This entry was posted in Egypt, Elections, Geography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Cairo Presidential Election Map: Shafiq’s Turf

  1. inoljt says:

    Wow, just saying that this is an absolutely amazing analysis. I had no idea about anything about Egyptian politics before reading this, so great job!

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