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Monday, 26 March 2018

Elections, elections, and more elections

On the off chance you spent the last few weeks at sea returning from Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific, the talking heads want you to know that today is election day.

With voter turnout being paramount in this poll, the narrative on the airwaves is that voting isn’t a democratic choice, but a duty to the state. Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi urged viewers to vote, not for the president, but to back the stability of the state, ensure continued reforms, and prevent the Ikhwan from staging a return. She added that asking for greater political freedoms and more democracy was something they should worry about after the elections (watch, runtime: 9:07). Kol Youm’s Amr Adib believes a turnout of 15-20% is not bad, while 20-25% would be good. A turnout of over 25% would be outstanding (watch, runtime: 7:23).

National Election Authority head Lasheen Ibrahim made the rounds to explain plans to ensure the election goes smoothly. He named some of the biggest electoral districts, telling Lamees that some 7.4 mn citizens from Cairo were eligible to vote, while Giza and Shariqiya are home to 5.2 mn and 4.1 mn eligible voters, respectively (watch, runtime: 9:38). An elections “expert” told Adib the authority has it set up so that voters will take 3-5 minutes to cast their ballots, eliminating long queues (watch, runtime: 9:20).

Already have election fatigue? Thank Lamees for devoting a chunk of her episode to a debate on the Ride-hailing Apps Act (videos of the debate were not online by dispatch time). Khaled Gamal, the ambulance-chaser (well, taxi-chaser) behind the lawsuit in the Administrative Court, said that he informed the government that it must comply with the verdict to suspend the licenses of ride-hailing companies Uber and Careem. The government had said it would comply only if it receives an official notice from the Administrative Court. Taxi drivers are heartbroken that the government isn’t moving fast enough to stop thousands of people from supplementing their income as drivers, according to statements from the head of their union Mahmoud Abdel Hamid.

A House divided on the Ride-hailing Act: The few MPs that showed up to the debate demonstrated the ambivalence that could prolong the debate on the bill to regulate the burgeoning sector. One MP, who agreed to the law in principle, aired conspiracy theories that these companies do not pay taxes in Egypt, while another — a member of the ICT Committee — defended the sharing economy the drive to regulate it in Egypt.

Meanwhile, Careem’s PR director Dalia El Nasr urges swift action in light of the over 100k drivers the firm employs. She noted that the company has yet to make a profit in Egypt (cry for her, friends). El Nasr had taken part in a national dialogue on the law on Sunday, the highlights of which are covered in the Speed Round.

The debate on cement price gouging continues in Yahduth fi Masr, where cement division head of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce Medhat Istaphanos said that the operating costs of cement companies have fallen to “zero” due to inflation. The debate had been kicked off by Consumer Protection Agency head Atef Yakoub, who acts like he has never taken an econ course in his life (watch, runtime: 4:31).

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