Preliminary results of the student union elections held in a number of public universities indicate a decline in the Muslim Brotherhood’s popularity.
The elections officially started on Saturday and will continue for the next two weeks.
A group of student movements for opposition parties launched an elections list entitled “Sout Al-Talaba” (the students’ voice). It includes the student movements of the Al-Dostour Party, the Popular Current, the Social Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), the Revolutionary Socialists, and the 6 April Movement.
Sout Al-Talaba has so far achieved a high numbers of votes in most universities where elections have started. Mustafa Foad, a student member of Al-Dostour, said that the group, together with independent candidates, gained 73% of votes in Assiut University. Foad added that the group also won the majority of votes in other universities including Ain Shams University, Menufiya University, Alexandria University, Minya University and Banha University.
The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Beni Suef released a statement on Tuesday saying that the Muslim Brotherhood student movement had won the majority of votes in Beni Suef University. They said the Brotherhood gained a majority of votes in the faculties of Medicine, Veterinary, Engineering, Pharmacy and Commerce, according to the statement.
“Generally, all preliminary results reflect huge losses on the Muslim Brotherhood’s side,” said Mohamed Abul Lail, student leader of the Al-Wasat Party. “The students voted against the Muslim Brotherhood as punishment for passing the new university bylaws.”
New governing university bylaws were passed in late 2012 by the Egyptian Student Union, a body comprised of public universities’ student union leaders and dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. The new bylaws were met with strong opposition by student movements as they were ratified without a referendum.
Foad attributed the Muslim Brotherhood’s loss of votes to the students’ increased awareness and higher participation in the elections. “The Brotherhood’s stupidity cost them the students’ votes,” said Fouad, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood’s alleged mismanagement of the state.
“Some students have dragged the polarised status of Egypt’s politics to the student union elections,” said Abdel Rahman Al-Hawary, media spokesperson of the Muslim Brotherhood student movement in Cairo University. “They aren’t voting based on each movement’s student activities and the quality of their actions, but based on their perceptions of the movement.”
After the student union elections, elections for a new Egyptian Student Union will begin. In Sout Al-Talaba’s election program, the students promised to amend the new governing bylaws.
“According to the current indicators, the movements which Sout Al-Talaba is made up of are very likely to preside over the Egyptian Student Union this year,” Foad said. He added that if this was the case, the new Egyptian Student Union’s first task would be to amend the bylaws.
“The new bylaws are definitely better than those which were drafted under the former regime,” said Osama Ahmed, spokesperson for the Revolutionary Socialist students. “However, we aimed for bylaws much better than this one.”
“The current bylaws do not represent the ideals we have long struggled to achieve,” Foad said.
Al-Hawary stated that anybody has the right to criticise the new bylaws or to amend them. He said that the majority of the Egyptian Student Union has to be in agreement over the amendments in order for them to be passed.
The law necessitates that student union elections are held within the first six weeks of the academic year. Despite this stipulation, elections have been repeatedly postponed since the January 2011 revolution.