Incumbent Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi won a second four-year term as president of Egypt in the elections on March 28 after garnering more than 90 percent of the vote. Sisi seized power in 2013 after staging a military coup against then-president Mohamed Morsi as a result of national protests against his presidency.
Initial estimates placed voter turnout at just over 40 percent of the country’s 60 million eligible voters, but approximately five percent of all votes were spoiled. Some attempted to vote for both candidates while others wrote in the name of Mohamed Salah, an internationally recognized soccer player from Egypt.
Moussa Mostafa Moussa, Sisi’s only opponent in the election and leader of the pro-establishment Tomorrow Party, obtained approximately three percent of the vote and lauded the election as free and fair. The Ghad Party officially endorsed Sisi before Moussa announced his candidacy and continued to do so throughout the electoral process.
“The presidential election was a step on the correct road to begin working together towards Egypt’s best interest,” Moussa said, adding that he had only hoped for ten percent of the votes.
Moussa’s hopeful rhetoric contrasts sharply with that of the international community. Observers have described the election as a farce, claiming that Sisi’s one opponent is a Sisi supporter himself. Moreover, before the election, three former high-ranking military leaders announced their campaigns in opposition of Sisi, but all three were forced not to run.
Human Rights Watch criticized the widespread, arbitrary arrests throughout the country in the two months leading up to the election, and 13 other human rights organizations have argued that the election was neither free nor fair.
The vote was still promising in that it was peaceful. The Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State had warned Egyptians not to vote in the elections, even urging militants to commit violent acts against those that did, but the three days of voting remained calm.
The Islamic State will be but one problem that Sisi must tackle in his next term. The economy presents another threat to Sisi’s popularity. It has declined under his leadership, mainly as a result of his internal economic policies, prompting some to call for a boycott of the recent election. Inflation peaked at 33 percent in 2017, and the minimum wage has not increased since 2013.