Elections are popular with dictators because they can get the results they want but they can also throw up surprises. This is what has just happened in Egyptian. General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi thought by going through the process he will confer legitimacy on his dictatorial rule but the Egyptian people have slapped him on the face by refusing to participate in the farce.
May 30, 2014, 10:07 DST
General (sorry Field Marshal) Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is now the officially declared pharaoh of Egypt but the election, far from conferring legitimacy upon him, has left him naked. The May 26-27 process was extended by another day because so few people showed up to cast their vote.
The Egyptian Election Commission had the gall to claim that because of “massive crowding” at polling stations, voting was extended by another day. Even so, few people bothered to turn up.
El-Sisi’s “election” was a foregone conclusion but the process has left him exposed. The Egyptian people treated the entire affair with utter contempt. If Sisi was previously considered illegitimate because he had no mandate from the people, after the election, it has been confirmed. Perhaps, he might now wish he had never gone through the exercise to confirm his lack of popular support.
Not surprisingly, protests took place in cities across Egypt against el-Sisi’s dictatorship after Friday prayers today. This is now a regular feature of life in Egypt but today’s protests provided further strength to demonstrators that what they had been saying all along was confirmed at the ballot box. The Egyptian people do not want Sisi as president.
The turnout officially declared at 37 percent was less than 10 percent. Not surprisingly, el-Sisi got 96 percent of the vote. That does not amount to much.
Why should people bother when they have no choice and in any case, they had already given their verdict in June 2012 electing Mohamed Mursi as president that the military overthrew in a coup on July 3, 2013?
Demonstrators took to the streets in Cairo, Bani Suef and Fayoum. They were holding banners with photos of the ousted president Mohamed Mursi. They also chanted slogans against the new pharaoh, el-Sisi.
Interestingly, the EU monitoring team said the vote was conducted “in line with the law”. What law was the EU team talking about?
Robert Goebbels, a senior member of the EU mission and with an infamous last name made an astonishing claim. He said “high turnout is not necessarily proof of democratic elections,” citing turnout in states like North Korea with only one candidate can reach 99 percent.
His notorious namesake predecessor would be pleased.
But does 10 percent turnout confer legitimacy on a candidate? How low can the EU go? El-Sisi represents nobody with only 9 percent vote of Egypt’s 53 million eligible voters. Not surprisingly, he is no longer smiling the way he used to before election.
He did not even bother to campaign since the entire state machinery was at his disposal. He simply went through the motion to get a veneer of legitimacy that the Egyptian people denied him by refusing to go with the charade.
While EU officials claimed the election was held in a “peaceful and calm manner” they were forced to admit lack of people’s participation “undermined universal participation in the election.”
The US monitor Democracy International, was more realistic criticizing the poll as farcical. It said: “Egypt’s repressive political environment made a genuinely democratic presidential election impossible.”
That is closer to the truth.
Egypt’s new pharaoh has no clothes and will remain naked from now on.