Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Landslide for Egypt's Sisi in an 'Undemocratic' Election

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Landslide for Egypt's Sisi in an 'Undemocratic' Election

Article excerpt

Former military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won Egypt's presidential election with about 92 percent of the popular vote, but despite that, his mandate to tackle the country's myriad problems will be smaller than expected.

Preliminary figures released by the Egyptian authorities suggest a turnout of 46 percent, a respectable figure when compared to other post-revolution polls, but one that was only eked out by extending the polls for an additional day and taking other extraordinary measures.

The results are viewed very differently by supporters and opponents of Mr. Sisi. His fans will focus on a healthy turnout and high margin of victory. His critics point to the heavy-handed way in which these were achieved, saying they were the product of repression and disillusionment.

A high turnout without the extra effort might have added legitimacy to an election process coming amid controversial circumstances - the vote came less than a year after Sisi led a popular coup against former president Mohamed Morsi, outraging Islamists and discomfiting western allies. Turnout in the election that brought Mr. Morsi into office was 52 percent, and Sisi previously said that he hoped for three-quarters of the country to vote, according to the Associated Press.

After sluggish turnout at polling stations throughout the scheduled two-day vote, the authorities extended voting by another day, non-voters were threatened with fines, and the transport ministry promised free rail fares to encourage people to get out to the polls.

"What are we going to say to the world?" exclaimed one pro-Sisi talk show host as he implored people to vote. "We have to open the prison, reinstate Mohamed Morsi, and tell him, 'Your Excellency, Mr. President Morsi, go ahead and rule.' "

Many view Sisi as a national hero after his move against Mr. Morsi last July, and have endorsed his aggressive crackdown against the former president's unpopular Muslim Brotherhood. …

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