A few weeks ago SocialEyez published a Buzz-Report on the Social Media trends of the first round of elections in Egypt. The result showed that 75% of Egyptians were in favor of the election although a majority claimed to continue resistance against the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces).
Now, after the second and third round of elections are completed and the results were published, we decided to take a look at online conversations and discussions regarding these last phases of the voting to get a concluding picture. In this report we will try to get answers for following questions:
- What were the most frequently discussed Social Media topics?
- Were there signs of an opinion shift during the various electoral stages?
- How did the image of the woman who got beaten by Egypt’s military have an influence on the elections?
The results are divided into the two different rounds of elections. The synthesis of all three rounds of elections are provided within the conclusion.
Egypt Elections Round 2
Round two of the elections took place between December 14th and 15th 2011, with the run-off one week later on December 21st-22nd. Among all rounds this round had the lowest volume with only 4,608 captured comments compared to 13,815 during first stage. A key issue that was picked up in the majority of mentions was with reference to the high turnout. In general, many users were satisfied with the high number of voters and also acknowledged the relatively stable and calm condition during the voting period Raehat Al-ward Wal-Ful wrote on the Facebook page of Rasd News Network (RNN), an online news service: “The Egyptian people are great and the elite who claim that the people don’t understand [politics] so they make bad choices are not able to understand the real nature of the wonderful and brave Egyptians. A salute to the genuine Egyptian nation, including its youth, elders, children, males and females.”
User Rasha Barakat alludes the fact of the religious freedom: “It’s real! I have seen Christian ladies wearing the cross, women like my mother, my sister and I wearing hijab, women wearing abaya, and women wearing niqab. All people were respectable. I didn’t see propaganda outside the polling stations and no one tried to convince others to vote for a certain candidate.”
Nevertheless some users, like Tweeter Omar El-Halwagy claimed that this save situation was only a delusion: “Security success around the polling stations only, but the scene is totally different 10 meters away.”
Concerning the role of the MB (Muslim Brotherhood) the discussions were full of controversy. Especially in the blog http://tears-demo3.blogspot.com, one user highlighted the difficult relationship between the MB as a group and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) as a party: “They *the Brotherhood+ said the group, Brotherhood, will be dedicated to da’awa (guidance or calls to follow the proper religious code) and the party, Freedom and Justice, to politics, but this hasn’t happened.” On the opposing side many users expressed their contentment about their great election outcome.
Finally, for the general share of topics, SocialEyez took Microblogs as an example and highlighted the main topics based on their percentage of volume. Out of 1500 total captured Tweets, the majority of Tweets was related to the role of martyrs in the revolution. (See graphic below for more results)
Overall, in comparison to the first round of elections, the volume of Social Media discussions has decreased significantly. In this time-frame, the elections were merely one of the top discussed topics, while other discussions were focused primarily on the role of the constitution, Egyptians support for the “Buy Egyptians Campaign” and the daily clashes with the military, in which one incident stirred the Buzz.
Controversy of an image showing a woman who got beaten by Egypt’s military
Between the last rounds of elections, the attention of the online community shifted to an incident that was the beginning of a large discussion about the general role of the military in Egypt and their handling towards protesters. Pictures and videos from a woman beaten up by the military, later known as the “Abaya Girl”, were posted across the web, with great attention on offline media networks as well.
Over 73% of monitored Social Media users opposed the excessive use of force by the military against protesters and expressed deep concern against the military. On Facebook Wael Salem stated: “This is totally unacceptable! Tantawi and his dogs are attacking and killing our sons and daughters!” On the news website Al Dostor one reader added “This is not an army. It’s rather an armed militia affiliated with Hosni Mubarak. They are the cursed dogs of Mubarak.”
Around one quarter (22%) of all monitored comments defended the military police’s behavior or even accused the protesters of fabricating footage. On Facebook the fan Hana Qamar said: “We all are supporting the army. They are doing their jobs to protect the public interest. All Egyptians know that all the videos showing soldiers beating people are not real. All of them have been fabricated.” Another comment on the Forum Fatakt questions: “Why would a respectable girl go to a place like that at a time when the country is on fire?! What’s the objective? Revolution against what? And whhhhhhhhy? Has she gone mad?!”
For more discussions follow this link.
Egypt Elections Round 3
The final round of elections once again has seen a low volume of comments compared to the first stage. The round took place during the first week of January 2012, with the run-off on the 9th and 10th. Unlike the previous rounds most discussions were less focused on the procedure of the election, but more on the results and the final outcome. Users were talking about the great results of the Muslim Brotherhood’s FJP, with the majority of users expressing their satisfaction with the results. In the overall discussion regarding round three of the elections, this topic had an approximate share of 25% of all posts concerning the elections. Here are some examples of popular Tweets:
Another focal point was related to the great losses of former regime leaders. Estimated 70% of users expressed satisfaction with the bad results these candidates received. User Mohamed Ibrahim declared: “I’m proud of the conscious Egyptian nation that proved it is not an ignorant nation and has been able to isolate all former regime remnants from the elections without the need to issue the political isolation law. Hold your head up high, you are an Egyptian!”, while on Facebook Abeda Elbanna added: “Thank goodness. Former regime remnants won the elections some time ago due to rigging. I’m so happy that God provided the Justice and Freedom party candidates with victory because they were the most oppressed faction at the hands of the remnants during the elections. I hope that same victory goes to the martyrs and injured when they get their rights back. May God punish the tyrants and make them examples for other people.”
After comparing all three rounds of Egypt elections within Social Media channels some basic trends became apparent. First and foremost, the total volume captured was dropping during these stages. Highest volume by far was reached during the first round (13,815), followed by the third (6,540) and second stage (4,608). The contrast between the first stage and the following two stages can be explained by the intial excitement surrounding the elections when they first began, which may have faded during the course of the month. It may also be the case that due to the Islamist lead, the results of the elections had become eminent to a good number of Social Media users, who then shifted their focus to other topics of discussion.
The main topic throughout all rounds can be identified as deliberations about the role of the Muslim Brotherhood. Furthermore, there was a predominant focus on the behavior of the SCAF, intensified by the image of a beaten Egypt woman.
While in the beginning of the elections discussions about the procedures and safety were predominant, in the last rounds the comments shifted to the final outcome of the elections.
Overall the Egypt Elections demonstrated an apparent shift towards a new and open Egypt. The numerous and intense discussions, especially on Social Networks, expressed a new culture of dialogue. Nevertheless the big controversy which was identified concerning many topics could suggest that there is still a long way to go.
Background: How does the system of Egyptian elections work?
Three rounds of elections should be enough? Agreed, but certainly not in Egypt. This country is known for its “notorious complexity” and with regards to the Electoral System the procedures are anything but simple to understand. In order to get a brief overview, the Jordan based media website Al Bawaba published an insightful article explaining the difficult voting system “. Basically the elections consist of three rounds voting for the Lower House, two rounds for the Upper House and finally one vote for the new president. The elections for the Lower House, also known as the People’s Assembly (Majlis Ash Shaab) are now completed with the majority of seats for the Muslim Brotherhood. Total results of all three rounds can be viewed here. Two-thirds of the 498 people’s assembly seats were elected by proportional representation, using lists drawn up by parties or alliances. Seats were allocated proportionally based on a party’s showing in each of the 46 districts. The remaining third, 166 seats, in the lower house were open to individuals, who may or may not have party affiliations — two seats in each of the 83 districts. The elections for the Upper House, also known as Shura Council, are scheduled to start End of January 2012 until End of February. Eventually the presidential elections are expected to be held in July 2012.
Overall, more than 40 parties and 6,000 candidates have reportedly registered to participate in the elections. Approximately only the half over 80 million Egyptians are eligible to vote.
The three rounds for the Lower House were only one step in the electoral process. The results are crucial to get an overview of the current political atmosphere in Egypt and with the striking domination of the Muslim Brotherhood who set a clear signal showing the new balances of power. For the following elections it will be interesting to see what the next months will bring to Egypt and how the political system can develop. SocialEyez will follow this situation closely and update the readers regarding major Social Media trends. Stay connected.
The Buzz Report monitors trends and themes that recently buzzed on various Social Media platforms. This explicit search was conducted on all Social Media platforms in Egypt in Arabic and English language with the time-period from end of November 2011 to the mid of January 2012. The focus of the research was on Social Media discussions related to the second and third round of the Egypt Elections.
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