Egypt elections: The odds are in El Sissi’s favor
CAIRO, June 2, 2014 — From May 26 to May 28, Egypt voted for its seventh president since the 1952 revolution.
Egypt’s first President was Mohamed Naguib, a member of the free officers’ movement that was established by Gamal Abdel Nasser, who succeeded Naguib in 1954. Anwar El Sadat served as a vice president to Nasser and succeeded him in 1970 until his tragic assassination in 1981. SHosni Mubarak ruled Egypt for 30 years until he was ousted by the January 2011 Revolution. In 2012 Mohamed Morsi ruled for one year, before he was ousted on June 30, 2013.
According to electoral sources, former Minister of Defense General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi won a landslide victory, gaining 96% of the vote. His only rival, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, won 3%, while 7% of the votes were void.
Women voted in greater numbers than in previous elections, while a majority of young people under the age of 25 boycotted the elections. Approximately 46% of Egypt’s 54 million official registered voters cast ballots.
The lower than expected turnout figure raised questions about the credibility of the strong man who is almost idolized by his supporters. El-Sisi is so well-loved that the electoral commission for the first time allowed ballots marked with hearts and “I love you” to count as official ballots; any ballot with extraneous writing was previously invalidated.
Challenges and stakes remain high for El Sissi in a country plagued by daily street protests and a difficult economy.
Some political analysts criticize El Sissi, claiming he did not offer a clear economic plan to reform the country and solve major issues such as unemployment, and a budget deficit intensified by fuel subsidies that could cost 19 billion$ in the next fiscal year. They also worry that his military background might encourage him to take anti-democratic actions and to limit freedom of expression and minority rights.
His supporters, however, see El Sissi as a savior, the strong man who can miraculously end the ongoing political turmoil which started in January.
Remarkably, in spite of all the economic, political challenges the odds are in El Sissi’s favor.