Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1388, (5 - 11 April 2018)
Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Issue 1388, (5 - 11 April 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Al-Sisi wins a new mandate

Presidential election results show incumbent Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi still riding high in the popularity stakes, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

Egypt's presidintial election 2018

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced in a press conference on Monday that incumbent President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi had won a landslide victory in the presidential election, securing 21,835,387 million votes or 97.08 per cent of all votes cast.

In the 2014 election which brought Al-Sisi to power there were six million fewer registered voters. Then Al-Sisi secured 23,760,104 million votes, 96.91 per cent of the total cast. 

Al-Sisi’s only rival in last week’s poll, Ghad Party head Moussa Mustafa Moussa, received 656,534, or 2.92 per cent of the total vote. In 2014 Hamdeen Sabahi, head of the Popular Current Party and Al-Sisi’s only rival on the ballot paper, won 757,511 votes or 3,09 per cent of the total. 

More ballots were invalidated than cast for Moussa. The NEC reported 1,762,231 million spoiled ballot papers, 7.27 per cent of the total votes cast.

Though MP and political researcher Abdel-Rehim Ali believes “most of the invalid ballots were cast by members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood trying to mar the poll,” Al-Ahram reported on Tuesday that according to the NEC the majority of  invalid ballots were cast in governorates with high levels of illiteracy.

Turnout in the 2018 election reached 41.5 per cent.

“The turnout figure may appear low at first sight, especially when compared to the 50 per cent figure in 2012 and 47.5 per cent in 2014,” says Al-Ahram political analyst Gamal Abdel-Gawad, “but we only get a full picture by considering all the pertinent factors as they apply to the presidential polls in 2012 and 2014.”

In 2014, says Abdel-Gawad, “although there was no Muslim Brotherhood and the number of registered voters increased to almost 54 million the percentage turnout remained almost the same as the 2012 election.”

In 2018 the absolute turnout — ie the number of people who actually voted — was also similar, even though the number of voters had increased by six million and the pro-Sisi media worked full-out urging citizens to vote.

According to Abdel-Gawad, “the results show that the turnout of Egyptians in presidential elections can be considered “average”, since it ranges between 42 and 47 per cent. In parliamentary elections the turnout becomes higher — reaching 62 per cent in 2011 and 48 per cent in 2015.” 

Turnout is generally higher when the poll is marked by stiff competition, says Amr Hashem Rabie. In the first round of Egypt’s 2012 presidential poll, the turnout was 47 per cent but in the second round, when the competition was fierce between the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik, turnout climbed to 50 per cent.

“The same applies to parliamentary elections when the competition involves a large number of forces and candidates,” notes Rabie.

Abdel-Gawad adds the 2018 presidential election can be seen as more than respectable given there was little competition and the result was a foregone conclusion. “What is significant,” he says, “is that 24 million citizens were keen to go to the polls and show President Al-Sisi he still has their trust.” 

The turnouts in 2014 and 2018 reveal the Muslim Brotherhood no longer has any significant impact on Egyptian voters.

“Despite its boycott calls the Brotherhood failed to break Al-Sisi’s base of support. The president’s popularity remains almost the same despite the last four years which have seen economic measures that negatively affect the lives of millions of Egyptians,” says Abdel-Gawad.

Rabie agrees that the 2018 presidential election has shown Al-Sisi’s popularity is still intact. He argues “the reason for this is largely due to his successes in fighting terrorism and on restoring security.”

Abdel-Gawad also asserts “pro-Sisi media channels did a much better job than the Brotherhood’s outlets broadcasting from Turkey and Qatar, persuading such a big number — 24 million — to vote.”

The results also show “President Al-Sisi is popular in a number of governorates long been considered Brotherhood strongholds.”

NEC figures revealed that in one time Brotherhood-dominated governorates Beheira (where the founder of the group Hassan Al-Banna was born), Alexandria and tribal Giza, Al-Sisi received 1.5 million, 1.2 million and 1.4 million votes, respectively. 

“In governorates which always voted against the Brotherhood — Cairo and the Nile governorates of Gharbiya, Sharqiya, Menoufiya and Daqahliya — the pro-Sisi vote was 2.2 million, 1.4 million, 1.7 million, 1.1 million, and 1.7 million, respectively,” says Abdel-Gawwad.

On Tuesday Al-Ahram newspaper carried a story that claimed the 41.5 turnout rate “shows that millions of Egyptians were keen to turn out not only to declare their support for Al-Sisi but to show they trusted the integrity of the poll”.

In his first speech after being declared the winner on Monday Al-Sisi vowed to work for all Egyptians without discrimination. 

“I promise to work for everyone, without discrimination. Those who renewed their confidence in me are not different from those who did otherwise,” President Al-Sisi said in a televised speech. 

He added that “common ground was greater and more welcoming than fixed ideologies or narrow interests.” 

Al-Sisi hinted that working collaboratively would be a priority in his upcoming term. 

“My confidence in the intelligence of the Egyptian nation is without doubt,” he said, adding that his faith in the Egyptian people had not waned. Al-Sisi also thanked rival candidate Moussa Mustafa Moussa, describing him as waging “a patriotic and noble electoral battle”.

Al-Sisi concluded his speech by repeating “long live Egypt” three times. 

Earlier, Moussa had thanked voters for turning out, saying their participation proved that the people of Egypt are capable of facing any challenge. 

“The presidential election was fair and served as a role model of integrity,” Moussa said.

Moussa excused his low vote tally, saying if another candidate had stood against President Al-Sisi he would have likely fared worse.

 “If I ran in the election against a different candidate, and not President Al-Sisi, I would have gotten more votes for certain,” Moussa said.

After the results were announced Russian President Vladimir Putin told Al-Sisi “the votes you got reflect the precious trust granted to you by the Egyptian people.”

US President Donald Trump told Al-Sisi that “the final results showed the Egyptian people’s trust in your leadership.”

Arab leaders, with the exception of Qatar’s Tamim bin Hamad, called Al-Sisi by phone to congratulate him in person.
The president will be sworn in before parliament in Cairo in June, as per constitutional guidelines.

In 2014, when there was no parliament sitting, Al-Sisi took his oath of office before the Supreme Constitutional Court. 

The NEC said it had not received any complaints about the election process, and no significant violations had been reported. 

This is Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s second presidential term. Egypt’s 2014 constitution places a limit of two four-year terms on presidential candidates, meaning Al-Sisi cannot run in 2022. 

Egypt's presidintial election 2018 (Infograph: Nader Habib)

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