The unofficial results of the 2014 Egyptian presidential elections suggest an overwhelming victory for Abdelfattah al-Sisi, with around 93% of the vote. While the Electoral Commission is still reviewing the complaints presented by the campaigns -official results are not expected until June 5th-, here there are some quick thoughts about the elections:
-A flawed process: It was always going to be difficult for the authorities to create a democratic façade for an electoral process that took place after more than 2.000 people were killed in demonstrations and some of the main political movements were banned. However, some unnecessary actions cast even a larger shadow over the fairness of the whole process. Let us set aside the fact that some of Sabahi’s delegates were not allowed to get in the colleges or got even arrested, and also the campaigning inside the electoral colleges. The declaration by the Prime Minister that the second day of voting would be a day-off in order to increase the turnout looked quite desperate. But the decision to extend the process to a third day was pathetic and showed that the regime was willing to do anything to increase a widely reported low turnout. Now, it will be quite hard to believe the accuracy of the official turnout and the results. The unofficial turnout is around 50%.
-Al-Sisi, a weaker president: One of the reasons why many people voted for al-Sisi was that he would make “a strong president”. Thanks to his personality and huge popularity, they argued, the Field Marshall would bring stability to the country and would be able to take tough decisions, such as reforming the system of subsidies. Well, after the difficulties of his campaign to mobilize voters, al-Sisi emerges as a president weaker than expected a few weeks ago. Since all the State institutions are behind with him, he will be able to govern effectively. Nonetheless, it is clear that he does not have the strong mandate he wished to take blunt and unpopular decisions.
-The June 30th coalition is definitely broken: Soon after the removal of Morsi, the heterogeneous June 30th coalition started to show some cracks. The first one was the resignation of Mohamed al Baradei, and the biggest one the draconian demonstration law passed in November. The current election has just crystalized the divorce between the so-called “fulul” -Mubarak supporters who cheer the army and want stability- and the citizens, mostly young, who want a civilian and democratic Egypt. Given that their hopes and dreams are very different, this separation was bound to happen once the memory and fear of the Muslim Brotherhood rule becomes distant. After the coup d’Etat and the resulting wave of hysteric patriotism, the revolutionary youth -or what Max Roddenbeck calls “civic Egypt”- was confused, divided and demoralized. Strapped between the army and the Brotherhood, it ceased being a relevant actor in the political scene. The low turnout has re-energized it, and it is already possible to see its reconstruction as an influential actor.
-Sabahi, the big loser: Unlike many opposition leaders who refused to participate in an electoral process that they as deeply flawed, Hamdin Sabahi always showed an interest in running for president. His remarkable third place in the 2012 election convinced his ambitious ego that one day he could be the raïs of Egypt. He was probably aware that he could not defeat al-Sisi, but he hoped to get enough votes to become the leader of the opposition. It is clear that this did not happen and he was not able to attract the anti-Sisi vote. The unofficial results indicate that his percentage of votes was lower that spoiled ballots. A big disappointment. Even if his campaign denounces some fraud, his image comes out of this battle seriously damaged. Sabahi may have committed several mistakes, but the main one was to aspire to lead and unite a fragmented opposition. His nasserist ideology would have never been accepted by the liberal, cent-right and leftist civilian forces.