According to the latest Presidential decree (I think) regarding Egypt’s controversial constitutional vote, President Morsi has decided to break the “yes or no” referendum into two stages with 10 governorates voting this Saturday, December 15, and the remaining 17 governorates the following Saturday, December 22.

The first 10 governorates to vote (starting in less than 72 hours) are as follows:

  • Egypt’s two largest cities: Cairo and Alexandria
  • Three Upper Egypt governorates: Aswan, Assuit and Sohag
  • Three from the Delta region: Daqahlia, Gharbiya and Sharqiya
  • North Sinai and South Sinai

Here is a breakdown of results from the 2011 Parliamentary elections as well as both rounds from the 2012 Presidential elections:


Strategic observations:

  1. President Morsi did not exactly “lead” with his 10 strongest governorates. During round one of the presidential elections he only won four of these ten.
  2. Third place presidential finisher and leading member of the National Salvation Front (NSF), the main opposition group to the draft constitution, Hamdeen Sabbahi ran very strong in the two largest cities in round one, winning Cairo (27.8%) and Alexandria (31.6%).
  3. Eventual runner-up and former Mubarek Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik won all three of the Delta governorates in round one: Daqahlia (24.9%), Gharbiya (31%) and Sharqiya (37.2%).
  4. Head-to-head with Shafik in round two, President Morsi split these ten governorates, 5-5.

While it is difficult to scientifically gauge the opposition’s base potential (constitutions are certainly not candidates), simple arithmetic suggests the “Vote No” campaign enters this Saturday’s vote with a possible strategic advantage.

Adding the round one votes for Ahmed Shafik, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Amr Moussa (also a leading member of the NSF) gives the “Vote No” effort a significant edge in non-Morsi, non-Freedom & Justice Party (the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm) votes in seven of the first ten governorates. This advantage is especially strong in Cairo (65%) and Alexandria (60%) where the heaviest volume of votes are.

If (and it’s a big if) the opposition can turn anger into organization they have a shot to make the decision to not boycott a good one. It is unknown as to how round one votes will be reported between this Saturday’s vote and the following Saturday. But if the opposition can win both cities – Cairo and Alexandria – and repeat the anti-Muslim Brotherhood vote domination in the Delta, they could find themselves in the lead in 72 hours.

Of course these are just numbers. Message and organization will matter the most and unfortunately the clock is working against the opposition. Regardless a path to victory is there… Educate. Advocate. Organize. Quickly.