Preliminary results for Egypt’s presidential election released on Thursday suggest former army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi won in a landslide victory. With Sisi’s supporters celebrating in the streets, even before polling ended on Wednesday, his victory was hardly in doubt.
According to government figures, the former army field marshal won 93 percent of the vote, with the runner up gaining only around three percent. Only about 46 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot, compared to 52% in 2012, as the government extended the voting period period by an extra day. Egyptians on social media shared pictures and anecdotal reports of nearly empty polling stations. The election commission expects to release final results next week.
Supporters of the former general celebrated in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in on Thursday. (Photo: Reuters)
This week’s low turnout follows calls from Muslim Brotherhood officials and some liberal groups to boycott the election. Islamists argued the poll would legitimize Sisi’s overthrow of Mohammed Morsi last July. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said Egypt’s 10-month long crackdown, on both religious and secular opposition groups, impeded a fair vote. The “mass arrests of thousands of political dissidents” prevented meaningful discourse and stifled political speech.
Indeed, Egypt’s army-backed interim government has struggled to maintain order in the face of Muslim Brotherhood organized protests and riots following Morsi’s overthrow. Continued confrontations have left more than 1,000 people dead in major cities. Simultaneously, security forces have faced off with violent Jihadist groups in Sinai. Even with a new president in power and parliamentary elections later this year, disenfranchisement from the Egypt’s political process could hamper the government’s efforts to gain legitimacy and security.