Amid low turnout, Independence Current wins big at Engineers Syndicate elections
Archive: Engineers Syndicate elections, 2016

The Engineers Syndicate conducted elections on Friday with the lowest participation rate in its recent history.

Unofficial figures compiled by vote monitors suggest that out of 600,000 engineers who were eligible to vote in the nationwide elections, only around 8,000 cast their ballots, representing a turnout of around 1.3 percent.

The results of the midterm elections for the Engineers General Syndicate and its 23 branch syndicates were issued on Monday, although the syndicate’s website only announced the winners of branch syndicate councils and their local engineering divisions. 

The results revealed a sweeping victory for the centrist Independence Current list, from which the president of the General Syndicate, Tarek al-Nabrawi, hails. Rough estimates suggest that the Current has won more than 80 percent of contested seats nationwide.

Other voting lists included the pro-government Correction of the Path list, the center-left Development and Construction list, and the liberal United Engineers coalition.

The Muslim Brotherhood bloc, which held sway over the councils of the Engineers Syndicates for nearly 30 years, did not take part in the elections. Following a General Assembly vote of no confidence against the Brotherhood in January 2014, the Islamist group also boycotted the Engineers Syndicate in previous elections held in April 2014.

The lack of participation from the Brotherhood may have contributed to the low turnout. The same scenario played out during the midterm elections for the Doctors Syndicate in October 2015, when only around 6 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots.

“The absence of both a Brotherhood list and a list for the [formerly ruling] National Democratic Party in these elections has translated into apathy, and a general lack of interest in voting among engineers,” left-leaning syndicate member Akram Ismail told Mada Masr.

While announcing the election results on Monday, General Syndicate Council Secretary Hassan Abdel Aleem told attendees, “We had hoped for a higher turnout, but the Egyptian population has not been active in elections recently.”

Saeed Abu Taleb, who ran unsuccesfully for a seat in the Cairo branch syndicate on the Development and Construction list, commented on the low turnout, saying, “There was no clear struggle, or distinct political camps, there was no clear political bloc which was to be contested, or unseated in these elections.”

Since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in the summer of 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood has chosen to boycott elections, even those for professional syndicates, in which they were a dominant force for decades.

Presiding over the electoral committee for the vote, Judge Farag Mostafa told engineers that these elections had witnessed comprehensive judicial supervision.

“This election was free and fair,” the judge stated. “Only a handful of complaints were filed.”

In light of the initial results of this midterm election, Abu Taleb said, “I have little faith in the future of this syndicate. In terms of the pressing demand for improved pensions, it is not likely that they will be increased significantly.”

“I’m not upset with the results of these elections,” Ismail commented, explaining that he was relieved to learn that the staunchly pro-government Correction of the Path list had not won many seats.

The engineer concluded that a victory for the pro-government list would have placed the syndicate under the state’s influence and control. “I don’t want the syndicate to be an appendage of the state,” he said. I want it to be an independent professional association which represents its members and fights for their rights.”


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