OPED: Focus grouping the “dostor” referendum.
I conducted an impromptu focus group this morning on my corner in Zamalek. While enjoying my morning
Turkish coffee [Mustafa insists that because he is an Egyptian from Aswan it is, therefore, Egyptian coffee], I became embroiled in a lively discussion about Saturday’s upcoming referendum. So I turned it into a bit of a focus group.
Group demographics: Eight men, aged 40-60, all devout Muslims. Two taxi drivers, one street vendor, two shop-keepers (one Salafi), one waiter, one police officer, and one Sheikh. While this small group was conducted on a street corner in Zamalek, none of these men live in Zamalek. They are dispersed throughout Cairo and Giza, all in working class or poorer neighborhoods.
Five admit (begrudgingly) to voting for the Freedom & Justice Party (Muslim Brotherhood), one for Al Nour (“big, big mistake” he says), and two for Egyptian Bloc/Free Egyptians (“they are no good either”).
For president: Four for Morsi and one each voted for Abou Fotouh, Sabbahi, Moussa and Shafik. Round two: Four for Morsi, Four for Shafik.
Q: How will you vote Saturday? All eight said they will vote against.
Q: Why? Answers (some in English, some through translation):
- “Morsi is no good. One hundred days of what? He has done nothing. He is Mubarek. He has made Egypt even worse than when we had Mubarek.”
- “My sister, and another sister, and my daughter… they all read the ‘dostor’ and they tell me: vote ‘no’. It is no good. No rights.”
- “I voted for Brotherhood, but I do not want to live Brotherhood.”
- “Morsi thinks we are stupid and we want to live like Saudi Arabia… he is wrong. Enough of this Brotherhood.”
- “I was not going to vote… but Morsi says he will fine me 500 LE if I don’t… so now I will and I will vote against Morsi and the Brothers.”
- And three said they will vote “no” because Morsi is raising taxes on the poor… and added some very choice and graphic words for Prime Minister Hesham Qandil.
While far from scientific, there is increasingly more anecdotal evidence on the streets that there is a majority “no” vote majority out there. As I pointed out yesterday, mathematically there is a clear path to “no”.
If the “opposition” (which, by the way, was irrelevant to these eight men) can keep round one close and President Morsi is forced to issue another tax hike decree, as demanded by the IMF, there could be serious “no” vote momentum going into the second round.
Educate. Advocate. Organize.