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.
Two people from different neighbourhoods in Cairo said they had witnessed attempts to buy votes. A third, from another district, recounted how a local shopkeeper had been pressured to hang a banner in support of Sisi. All asked to conceal their identities for their their own safety.
Meanwhile, staunch supporters of the president such as the television anchor and jewellery maker Nermin Nazim, have been attempting to rally enthusiasm.
“There will be those who support him but don’t want to bother to vote,” Nazim said. “How can he win if nobody goes [to the polls]? He can’t win with a tiny majority.”