Egypt’s Presidential Elections A Mere Formality


More than three years have passed since the onset of Jan. 25. Three years in which Egyptians have fought for their rights, protested against corruption and dictatorial regimes and gone to the polls ten times, twice to elect a president.

Following Jun. 30 2013, what many called a coup d’état against the democratically elected Morsi, Sisi refused any possibility to become the president of Egypt. Nevertheless, and regardless of the reasons behind his decision, in March 2014 Sisi announced his formal resignation from the Armed Forces and his candidacy for the presidential elections to continue “his mission to regain Egypt and serve the nation”.

At this point, there is little doubt that Former army chief Abdel Fatah el Sisi is expected to emerge from this round of voting as Egypt’s next president, further entrenching sixty years over which the army has monopolized the rule over Egypt. Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak and… Sisi. In a couple of decades from now, few will remember the name of Morsi – historical amnesia at its best.

Sisi’s overwhelming victory is predicted by all, making of this elections a matter of mere legitimization rather than a step towards building a democratic apparatus in Egypt. The 59-year-old career officer is backed by the military, minority groups – Coptic Christians, women – strong businessmen, local media and a large percentage of citizens that will vote for him alleging he is the only one able to guarantee security and stability. Surprisingly, Sisi has also received the support of the Salafist Nour Party, which gained 25% of the votes in the general elections in 2012.

sisiHowever, Sisi, elevated to the status of pharaoh, needs to reassert the popularity of his authoritarian military regime through a landslide victory at the polls. And apparently, that is not an easy task.

Abroad, Sisi won with 95 % of votes. The Election Commission announced that 318,033 Egyptians voted around the word, which means barely half of the citizens registered to vote. According to a more detailed opinion poll carried out by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, Sisi is viewed favorably by 54% of Egyptians living abroad and unfavorably by 45% of them.

In Egypt, there is around 53 million citizens eligible to vote and already a number of political groups have decided to boycott the elections, among them the banned April 6 Movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Strong Egypt Party. Several groups working for human rights have also staged a ballot boycott – not to disregard the 16,000 of his rivals that are in prison, including revolutionaries, journalists and the members of the Muslim Brotherhood the military ousted in the summer of 2013.

Besides the different groups expected to boycott the voting, there are many Egyptians apathetic and disillusioned with the appalling situation of the country who will not be participating in the elections.

Despite initial predictions of great turnout by Sisi following the candidate’s intense campaign and media loyalty to the Army, the turnout on the first day of voting seemed lower than expected. The Minister of Interior said turnout was good but declared Tuesday a national holiday and extended the voting time until 10PM.

It will be interesting to see the percentage of voters among the younger generation of Egyptians who started the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in the Egyptian revolution of 2011. A low participation rate will be a clear sign of the disappointment and lack of representation they are facing.

Sisi will become the next president of Egypt. Nonetheless he will have to tackle the main issues affecting the population such as poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, gender violence and other widespread problems. The question is if he will he be able to meet the high expectations of his fervent supporters and convince the rest about the legitimacy of his government.


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