‘Poll dancing’: Egyptian voters 'shake it' for Sisi to make it
“Even in the darkest times, someone always manages to crack a joke to draw a smile on our faces"
As Egypt scrambles to boost voter turnout in the country’s presidential poll by extending voting to a third day, a fun phenomenon across the country has not gone unnoticed.
Videos of Egyptian men, women and children dancing outside polling stations are being widely shared on the Internet, with most commentators linking the ecstatic scenes to the wave of pro-military fervor the country has witnessed in recent months.
With former army chief Abel Fattah al-Sisi expected to win in a landslide as he contends with leftist politician Hamdeen Sabbahi, a strong voter turnout would have been seen as a strong mandate for Sisi's rule.
But as Egypt election officials announced that voter turnout for Monday and Tuesday was at a lower-than-expected 37 percent, videos of the dance phenomenon are perhaps one of the main indicators of Egyptian pro-Sisi excitement – especially as many of those dancing brandish images and posters of the army chief.
“We dance for Sisi, we dance for Egypt,” 52-year-old Mona el-Ennawy told Al Arabiya News, adding she herself had danced in front a polling station in central Alexandria on Tuesday.
“I went to vote with my husband and sister. In the queue I met neighbors and friends and after we came out from the polling station, there was a group of people playing music and we all started dancing.
“My 7-year-old daughter was with me, we painted C-C on her cheeks like all the other kids,” Mona added.
“By nature we're a very joyful society,” Ahmed Emad, a political commentator and media blogger, told Al Arabiya News on Wednesday.
“Even in the darkest times, someone always manages to crack a joke to draw a smile on our faces and keep us going through tough situations,” Emad added.
Clinging onto hope
But the fun scenes are also an indicator of Egyptians being hopeful of the future; not only a Sisi presidency, but a future in which turbulent times of political violence and economic gloom are swept away into the past.
“They're just happy to elect their chosen candidate, in hope of ending this tough three year post-January 25 fiasco,” Emad said, in reference to the 2011 revolution which saw former President Hosni Mubarak ousted from power, paving a way for Islamists to win parliamentary and presidential powers, all while Egyptian society grew increasingly polarized.
Widely regarded Egypt's de facto leader since he led the ouster of Islamist President Mohammad Mursi last July, Sisi has been the man of the moment.
“People are clinging onto whatever hope there is,” says Charles Holmes, a Middle East analyst with a background in government communications.
“The takeaway from the macro political viewpoint is that there is so much pressure now riding on a Sisi presidency. Their future so strongly tied to what the Sisi presidency is able to achieve is huge.
“This is it, this is the last chance for the country. If this new chapter doesn’t work out, it’s unclear what kind of future Egypt will lead,” Holmes added.