U.S. media is reporting that supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi have radically different views on the meaning of the first round of voting on Egypt’s new, constitution. According to a New York Times report:
December 16, 2012 CAIRO — Supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi sparred on Sunday over the preliminary results of a referendum on a draft constitution, which Egyptians moved toward approving in voting marked by long lines but low voter turnout. The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that supports Mr. Morsi, said that around 57 percent of those who cast ballots in the first round on Saturday voted in favor of the proposed constitution, whose drafting was dominated by Islamists. The figure was based on unofficial tallies. A second round of voting is scheduled for this Saturday in rural areas, where the draft constitution is likely to win stronger support. While the Brotherhood hailed the ‘political maturity’ of voters, opposition leaders disputed the unofficial results and said the voting was marred by irregularities. Each side sought to frame the results as favorable. Although many people here predicted that the charter would be approved, the turnout was just 31 percent, according the Brotherhood’s estimates. That immediately raised doubts about whether a document intended to express a consensus on Egypt’s identity and lay the foundation of a new government had won legitimacy in the referendum. Some also said that the low turnout and relatively narrow approval margin dented assumptions about the strength of the Brotherhood, whose extensive grass-roots network had yielded a string of electoral victories since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February 2011. Some Brotherhood officials seemed surprised by the results. ‘It’s certainly below a lot of expectations,’ said Gehad el-Haddad, a senior Brotherhood official. He and others said the polarizing political fight between Mr. Morsi’s supporters and opponents was to blame, causing a broad disillusion with politics and prompting what Mr. Haddad called Egypt’s ‘silent majority’ to stay home. Still, he argued that the high proportion of ‘no’ votes came not from a rejection of the draft constitution, but rather from anger — justified or otherwise — at the Brotherhood. ‘The evaluation was not on the product,’ he said. ‘It was on the producers.’ Resentment against the Brotherhood grew in recent weeks after Mr. Morsi issued a decree insulating his decisions from judicial scrutiny and then hastily called a referendum on the constitution.
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