Going out now just to look around a bit. An employee at the Dutch Institute Library in Zamalek says her family in the Hussein neighborhood (their voting place is the Wikalat El Ghoury, where the whirling dervishes perform) are reporting a lot of crowding at the polls, especially in the women’s line. She finds this a very good sign but jokes (it’s 10am here): “The men are still sleeping!” There is a 500-pound fine (nearly $100 dollars, or 80% of the monthly salary of a low-level state bureaucrat) for not voting, so the turnout may be higher than the political situation would otherwise warrant. It seems that people considering a boycott have decided against it – a smart move, I believe. It is impossible to tell right now how high or low the stakes might be.
You can read pieces in the Times etc and live coverage in a few places (notably at The Arabist and Al-Masry Al-Youm. Meanwhile, here are a few misc photos of the election campaign posters. Note that each candidate and party has a “symbol” on the ballot, presumably for less-literate voters (though with hundreds of individual candidates plus party lists to choose from (and some are listed as “farmers” or “workers” to fill those quotas) even the more literate could use some help. Some of the symbols are funny. Heliopolis candidate (polisci professor and well-publicized partner of a film star) Amr Hamzawy has an engagement ring. Others I’ve seen: screwdriver; fishing rod; suitcase (seems like a bad message to send, no?), CD, sports car, hoe, oversized apple. A blonde candidate with a charming sunflower got her Zamalek posters defaced by someone who scribbled “filuul” (old regime remnant) all over them. So it goes. Of the posters we’ve seen, only Gamila Ismail’s lack the little symbol; presumably she is not courting illiterate voters.