On Thursday, May 29, 2014, Egypt made it to all major news headlines about the outcome of the 2014 Presidential Elections. Instead of narrators praising the democratic process, instead of narrating with a sense of happiness, their voices were somber. Instead of history being made, mediocre history was jus repeated.
Headlines focused on Hamdeen Sabahi accepting defeat and claimed severe voting violations. Sabahi claimed that the results were not to be trusted. Sabahi only received 2.9 percent of all votes cast throughout the three days, while El Sisi received 93.1 percent of votes. According to Sabahi, the violations were too insignificant to change the outcome. He was referring to ballot cards that were cast out as unreadable, of which his were more than those of Sisi. It turned out to be an embarrassing event for the entire Sabahi campaign.
It has to be said that only 44.4 percent of all eligible voters in the country made the effort to attend the ballots and make their votes count. The scorching temperatures that reached nearly forty degrees Celsius in most parts of Egypt was not to blame for the low turnout of voters. It was clear that the country just wasn’t interested in the so-called democratic elections of 2014.
The steps that the current government took to extent the elections were shocking. Not only did they declare the second day, Tuesday, a national holiday to ensure no persons had work as a reason to stay away, they also went as far as to extend the elections to Wednesday. When the turnout still showed no potential they declared that all shops and malls were to close by eight o’clock on Wednesday evening and mosques were used to announce that people had to go out of their homes to vote for Abdel Sisi. A five hundred Egyptian pound fine for not voting was nearly imposed by court judges too.
I have to say that those steps left a bitter after taste in my mouth. By Tuesday evening people were emerging not only in Tahrir Square, but all over the capital with fireworks, sounding car horns and cheering “Sisi, Sisi”. There simply was no reason to extent the elections to another day. The country accepted that their new president would be Sisi.
Before the voting started on Monday, Abdel Fattah El Sisi said on national television that he wanted at least eighty percent of the people of the country to cast their votes so that he could show the world the extent of his popularity. He was too smug and perhaps such a statement caused his nation to turn on him. In another incident, a news anchor urged people during a live broadcast to vote simply because the Brotherhood would be able to get back into government if they didn’t cast their votes. He was not the only one – another news anchor stated that those who refused to vote were welcomed to go to the prison where Mohamed Morsi was kept and welcome him back to power.
After four years of back and fro the Egyptian people are tired and depressed. There truly is no need for political games and to play on their sentiments. The country’s people are also not uneducated slum dwellers. They know when they are being intimidated and it is like adding salt to an open wound. Democracy was taken for granted once again.
A number of international news websites quoted Egyptians who made an effort to vote. One lady said that she knew Sisi would win as she was educated enough to see through the smoke screens, but she would vote for Sabahi just to make a point that not all Egyptians wanted Sisi as their president and to further prove that there would indeed be ballot papers with votes marked for Sabahi.
The bottom line is that the victor has only but a limited time to show off what he wants to do with his country. He will be only a small component of the future of Egypt. The Egyptian economy is hazardously close to collapse. Unemployment has reached 13 percent with people aged between fifteen and twenty nine being hardest hit. Basic food and services are nearly unaffordable to the poor. These forces are what will determine the success of the victor, because these factors alone will be reason for widespread protests.
Besides immanent protests, Sisi also picked fights with the wrong people. The Muslim Brotherhood has vowed to not sit down and accept the new rule. That may lead to further terror threats not only to foreigners in the country, but attacks on his very own Egyptian nation.
International response has been along the same lines as what was mentioned throughout this post. The media buildup of the last two weeks have perhaps dampened the international excitement over the future leader of Egypt so there wasn’t much else to expect except the four letter word “Sisi”. An interesting Youtube media clip has surfaced again during the week which shone a new light on the opinions of many people who previously believed that all Americans were backing the Obama government in his decisions to withdraw monetary support. If time permits, have a look at what this brave American had to say to her president. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQuud_uEYIA&feature=share
As soon as all votes have been counted, Sisi will be sworn in as Egypt’s new president and he will then announce his cabinet. He will most likely make his plans for Egypt publicly known. There is nothing anyone can do about Abdel Fattah Sisi becoming president. There is a lot of uncertainty what people are going to do about him being their new president. One very expensive lesson he learnt is that one should never, never take something like democracy for granted. The nation’s people haven’t experienced true democracy in over four decades and I have a feeling they won’t rest until they do.