Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s victory in last week’s election was never in doubt, but the vote produced a surprise runner-up — an unusually large number of invalid ballots, suggesting a possible protest vote against el-Sissi or the election itself. Official figures released Monday by the election commission gave el-Sissi 97 percent of the vote, securing him a second, four-year term in office following an election in which he ran virtually unopposed. His sole challenger, Moussa Mustafa Moussa, a little-known politician who made no effort to challenge him, received 656,534 votes, or 2.92 percent. Moussa’s tally was outdone by the 1.76 million invalid ballots, which would have amounted to 7.27 percent of votes cast, a considerably higher percentage than in the last two presidential elections: 4.07 percent in 2014 and 3.1 percent in the 2012 runoff.
Articles about voting issues in the Arab Republic of Egypt.
The Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, is expected to declare a landslide victory after an election in which his only challenger was a supporter of his rule. Preliminary results released last Thursday indicated that roughly 40% of the electorate turned out to vote, with 92% choosing Sisi. On Friday, this was revised to 42%, with Sisi securing 96.9% of valid votes, exactly the same as his last electoral victory in 2014. Mousa Mostafa Mousa, the alternative name on the ballot, whose party previously endorsed Sisi, initially came in third place to spoiled ballots, but was later awarded 3.1% of the vote. Friday’s unexplained revision suggested there were no spoiled ballots at all. Official results were due to be released on Monday afternoon.
From modern downtown bookstores to dusty street-corner bookstands where venders peddle Xeroxed copies of international best-sellers, one new release has proved popular this winter in Cairo: translated copies of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” Ahmed, a thirty-one-year-old bookseller in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, told me that Egyptian readers found the bluntness of America’s new President entertaining. “Trump is funny,” Ahmed said, declining to give his last name. “He says what he thinks.” For Egypt’s democracy and human-rights activists, Trump is something far different: an enabler of repression who has embraced Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as he carries out the most repressive crackdown in the country in decades. Three days after taking office, Trump phoned Sisi and effusively pledged his support for the authoritarian ruler. When Sisi visited Washington last spring, Trump warmly welcomed him to the White House, reversing an Obama Administration policy of declining to meet the former general because of his government’s sweeping human-rights abuses.
Early results from Egypt’s election showed President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi headed for a landslide victory with 92 percent of the vote, state media reported Thursday, an unsurprising margin in a race where he eliminated all serious opposition months ago. Mr. Sisi’s token opponent, Moussa Moustapha Moussa, received just 3 percent of the vote, less than the number of spoiled ballots, state media said. With his main rivals in jail or forced from the contest, Mr. Sisi relied on voter turnout to demonstrate his popularity. State media said that about 40 percent of voters cast ballots during the three days of voting that ended Wednesday, down from 47 percent in the 2014 election that formalized Mr. Sisi’s power.
The woman in a long black shawl bustled up to a stall on a back street in the crowded Nile Delta city of Tanta, 50 miles north of Cairo. “Where’s my subsidy box?” she demanded. “My brothers and sisters in Cairo have already received theirs. When do I get mine?” The woman, Soad Abdel Hamid, a housewife, was referring to boxes of subsidized food — cooking oil, rice and sugar, mostly — promised to voters in many poor areas in return for casting their vote in Egypt’s presidential election. With no real opponent to provide drama in his re-election bid, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is relying on the sheer enthusiasm of his supporters to generate a credible turnout. And where fervor isn’t enough, he has other means of enticing — or pushing — voters to the polls.
One manager threatened employees to get them to vote — and then checked for telltale ink-stained fingers as they clocked in the next day. A regional governor pledged improved water and sanitation service to towns with a high turnout. Some people were promised more food and even cash if they went to the polls. With President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi running virtually unopposed in this week’s election, Egypt’s leadership has made clear it considers a high turnout crucial to ensuring that the balloting has credibility. For months ahead of the balloting that began Monday and runs through Wednesday, pro-government media have pushed the message that voting was a patriotic duty to foil foreign plots against Egypt.
Egyptians are going to the polls on Monday in an election that is almost certain to result in victory for the president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, after all credible opponents after all credible opponents were prevented from getting on the ballot. The country’s 60 million eligible voters have a choice between the incumbent and a little-known candidate who has previously expressed support for Sisi. But amid concern that the personality campaign that inspired “Sisi-mania” before the 2014 election is likely to be met with widespread voter apathy this time, the government has mounted a fierce campaign in an attempt to boost numbers at the polls. Turnout is seen as the only issue that will be in doubt in this election.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi needs no election campaign. The general-turned-president’s crackdown on challengers and dissent, which critics say surpasses that before Egypt’s 2011 uprising, has already ensured he will win a second term. Central Cairo is nonetheless adorned with banners and billboards proclaiming support for Sisi, who led the overthrow of Egypt’s first freely elected president in 2013 and returned the military establishment to power. Next Monday, seven years after the Arab Spring protests that ousted Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and others in the Middle East, Egypt will once again hold the kind of vote that kept those leaders in power for decades.
Mostafa al-Asar’s lawyer said he had barely started work on a documentary critical of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when police arrested him and charged him with publishing “fake news”. The journalist was detained before he had even begun filming, his lawyer said. The government did not respond to requests for comment. The arrest on Feb. 4 came ahead of a presidential election later this month which Sisi is virtually guaranteed to win. All opposition candidates except one have dropped out citing intimidation, while the remaining challenger has said he supports the president. The election commission says it has been receptive to any complaints and the vote will be fair and transparent.
Egypt: The opposition is calling for a boycott of this month’s election. Will it work? | The Washington Post
Later this month, Egyptians will go to the polls to reelect Abdel Fatah al-Sissi to his second term as president. An all too familiar scenario is playing out: Sissi is the only viable candidate. His sole challenger, Mousa Mostafa Mousa, is the head of a party that had endorsed Sissi before entering its own candidate at the last minute. Other potential challengers were threatened, intimidated or arrested into withdrawing. The regime’s harassment and deterrence of potential opposition candidates do not always lead to calls for boycotting. This time, however, 150 opposition figures and seven political parties came together to denounce the elections as a farce and call for a boycott of the upcoming polls. As with most boycott campaigns, the opposition’s decision has roused its share of detractors who dismiss the strategy as ineffective and even a threat to Egypt’s security. The situation in Egypt raises a critical question: Do boycotts work?