Egypt: Wider elections in store

Egyptians display their voter registration card while protesting the closure of polling stations in Alexandria, 26 November 2005 as judges briefly closed and suspended voting in several polling after state security forces prevented voters from casting their ballots.

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The Egyptian stock exchange was supposed to open today. But it'll probably be another week before trading gets underway there again. The country's economy is in shambles after weeks of protests against President Hosni Mubarak, who resigned on Friday.

And if that weren't bad enough Egyptians now have to spend some money to make a democracy.

Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports it ain't cheap.


JEFF TYLER: Is it right to spend millions of dollars on an election in a poor country desperate for resources?

JOHN STREMLAU: It's a cost that I think is justified, but it does give one pangs, you know. Because you look around and see all the other needs that are unmet.

That's John Stremlau with the Carter Center. He oversees efforts to promote democracy around the world. He says elections lay the foundation for a stable democracy. And stability paves the way for international donors to make investments.

STREMLAU: In Egypt, we're going to go through some unchartered waters because they have not had a credible, open election in memory. And so they are going to have to build some of the procedures and institutions, and that will be costly and will take time.

How costly? He says international donors could be looking at election costs in Egypt of about $10 per voter. Comparatively, that's actually a bargain. Stremlau says elections here in the U.S. cost about $30 per voter.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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