Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will be Egypt’s next head of state after winning more than 90 percent of the vote in the presidential elections. As few as 3.5 per cent voted for his single opponent, the labour activist Hamdeen Sabahi.
Initial numbers suggested that more than 46 per cent of Egypt’s 53 million eligible voters participated – a respectable turnout comparable with previous post-2011 polls – but which could only be achieved after officials announced a last-minute holiday, extended voting to a third day, and threatened non-voters with a large fine. It was also substantially lower than the 80 per cent turnout Mr Sisi had called for in the days before the election.
Yet, statistically, his victory was a strong one -dwarfing the 13 million who voted in 2012 for Mohamed Morsi, the man Mr Sisi ousted from office last summer. Whether from fear or affection, many have demonstrably placed their trust in a strongman who they hope can stabilise Egypt after three years of post-revolutionary unrest.
"With all this chaos, we need a stronger man than Hosni Mubarak, " said Adel Mohamed, a 45-year-old street cleaner, who voted for Mr Sisi on Wednesday.
The scale of the victory came as no surprise after Egypt’s top generals, media personalities and business elite united to present the former army chief as the only patriotic choice, and most challengers declined to take part in the election.
But the reported 46 per cent turnout seemed high to some. At the end of the second day of voting, Egypt’s prime minister admitted the turnout had only exceeded 30 per cent – leaving sceptics wondering how so many more voters could have participated on the third and final day.
The head of one of Egypt’s only homegrown pollsters, Baseera, said the figures seemed plausible in the context of his company’s exit polls. “I think it makes sense based on our numbers,” said Magued Osman, who is also a statistics professor at Cairo university. Baseera’s 220-strong team interviewed more than 12,000 voters over the three days and calculated turnout to be between 42-46 per cent.
Opposition activists said the election was meaningless amid a months-long crackdown on dissent that has stifled Egypt’s opposition and frightened all but one man from challenging Mr Sisi.
– (Guardian service)