Cairo: Egyptians voted Sunday to elect a new parliament that will bolster President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's grip on power after he crushed all opposition since ousting his Islamist predecessor two years ago.
The vote for the much-delayed 596-member parliament is being staged in two phases ending on December 2, with Egyptians abroad casting their votes for the first round from Saturday.
But with an absence of opposition parties - including the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood that has faced a deadly government crackdown overseen by Sisi - polling has inspired none of the enthusiasm witnessed for Egypt's first democratic elections in 2011.
Experts say the election's outcome is a foregone conclusion and only voter turnout will be a gauge of popularity for Sisi, who has enjoyed a cult-like status since toppling president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Voting was listless Sunday in 14 of the 27 provinces where polling is being held over two days.
This prompted the government to announce that public sector employees will work only half a day Monday in order to have time to vote.
Authorities also urged the private sector to "facilitate" voting for their employees.
Polling stations closed at 2100 GMT and were to reopen Monday at 0700 GMT.
Most of the more than 5,000 candidates overwhelmingly support Sisi and are expected to dominate parliament.
Cairo resident Islam Ahmed was unmoved and said he was not taking part in the vote.
"I think the turnout will be low. I don't know any candidate in my constituency... many people don't know candidates in their constituencies," said Ahmed.
Hazem Hosny, political science professor at Cairo University, said: "This parliament will be a parliament of the president.
"It's really a parliament... to keep things as they are, to give an image of democracy."