Election officials count ballots at the end of the first round of voting for Egypt's parliamentary election in Giza, Cairo on October 19, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI
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Turnout was so low in the first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections that satirist Bassem Youssef derided it as an ingenious strategy to show the world Egypt had rid itself of its notorious overcrowding. Empty polling stations highlight disillusionment with Egypt's chaotic political transition but could have the surprise effect of bolstering President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi's authority by suggesting that, four years after they revolted against one-man rule, Egyptians still look to the presidency as the main seat of power.As military chief, Sisi ousted President Mohammad Morsi, a Brotherhood member, a year later, in 2013, after mass protests against his year in office.Sisi won backing for Morsi's ouster from other opposition forces with a roadmap to democracy that promised parliamentary elections in six months. But critics say Egypt lost its way when it decided to hold presidential elections first, putting Sisi rather than parliament in control of the democratic transition.Sisi won 97 percent of the presidential vote in mid-2014 with an official turnout of 47.5 percent after elections were extended to a third day following a slow start.Approved by popular referendum in early 2014 – after Morsi's ouster but before Sisi won a presidential vote – Egypt's constitution envisages the transition leading to a semi-presidential system with an empowered parliament.
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