Between 26 March and 28 March 2018, presidential elections were held in Egypt. Incumbent President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi secured 97% of the votes, while his only opponent, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, received even fewer votes than the number of invalid ballots. The electoral campaign was characterized by widespread repression of the opposition, independent media and (Human Rights) activists. Egypt maintains a zero-tolerance policy towards dissents. With a continuous state of emergency, most opposition against the regime has been labelled as “terrorism”. Under the rule of Sisi, Egypt has turned into a state with authoritarian rule.
After the 2011 revolution, which ended the repressive thirty-year regime of Hosni Mubarak, there was a short experiment with democracy. The first free presidential and parliamentary elections were organized in 2012. Mohamed Morsi and the FJP (Political branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt) became the winners. Unrest in the country remained, however. A few months later, in November 2012, President Morsi issued a temporary constitutional declaration that in effect gave him unlimited powers, which led to the outburst of mass protests. In July 2013 Morsi was removed from office by a coup d'état led by the army under General Sisi. In 2014 the general was elected president.
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- 98,423,595 million (World Bank 2018 est.)
- Governmental Type:
- Ruling Coalition:
- Last Elections:
- 2018 (presidential elections)
- Next Elections:
- 2020 (parliamentary elections)
- Sister Parties:
- Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP)
In 2014, the former head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Abdel Fattah al Sisi, was elected president. In order to overcome the mass protests and chaos in the country, al Sisi introduced a roadmap to help the transition of the country. One of the most important steps of the roadmap was the introduction of a new constitution, drafted by a 50-member committee. The constitution was approved by a referendum in January 2014, although serious doubts over the fairness and the political climate during the referendum have been cast. Since 2015, many former Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members have been jailed, sentenced and completely banned from political participation. Journalists have been persecuted on a large scale and media freedom has been restricted. Furthermore, instability in the Sinai provinces has grown, where insurgents are fighting the Egyptian army. As a result, Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing with the Palestine Territories.
Egyptian revolution (2011) and continuing crisis
The Tunisian revolution that broke out in December 2010 sparked the Egyptian people to take to the streets as well. Starting from the 25th of January large scale demonstrations were organised in different cities in Egypt calling for an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule. Dissatisfactions over corruption, lack of freedom of speech, economic issues as food price inflation, high unemployment, low wages and the enrichment of the ruling elite were the reasons for the protests. Mubarak repeated he would remain in power until September. Angry that Mubarak did not step down, protests resulted in a nationwide escalation dubbed ‘Farewell Friday’ on the 11th of February. At 16.00 hour the same day, the Egyptian Vice-president Omar Suleiman announced in a televised address that President Hosni Mubarak had stepped down and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), which announced that it would remain in charge of the country until a president would be elected.
Around one month after the revolution Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum on constitutional changes, which paved the way for new elections. From November 2011-January 2012 the first free parliamentary elections were held in Egypt. The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, was the big winner. A few months later Mohamed Morsi, leader of the FJP, was announced as the winner, becoming the first democratically elected civilian president.
In November 2012, President Morsi issued a temporary constitutional declaration that in effect gave him unlimited powers, which led to the outburst of mass protests. By the end of June 2013 the protests, which were also fueled by the prosecutions of journalists and attacks on non-violent protesters, escalated after opposition parties and millions of protesters urged Morsi to step down. In July 2013 Morsi was removed from office by a coup d'état led by the army under General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The Muslim Brotherhood protested against the military coup, but these protests were crushed in the August 2013 massacre in Rabaa in which at least 817 civilians were killed. Since his overthrow, Egyptian prosecutors have charged Morsi with various crimes and sought the death penalty, a move denounced by Amnesty International as "a charade based on null and void procedures".
The constitution of 2014 abolished the old Shura Council (Upper House), while the old People’s Assembly (Lower House) was replaced by the House of Representatives. In total 596 MPs are elected in two rounds. 120 of them are elected through coalition-based lists. Their selection is based on a ‘winner takes all’ system, that awards all the seats to one party if they surpass 50 per cent of the votes. Furthermore, 448 independent candidates are elected, some of them backed by political parties. The final 28 MPs are appointed by the President. The MPs are elected from 205 districts. The coalition based lists have quota for Christians and women. Of those appointed by the President, 14 have to be women and all have to be independent from political factions.
Constitutional referendum, 2014
In January 2014 Egyptians voted for the first time since Morsi’s ouster in a referendum on a new constitution, which replaced the constitution passed under Morsi. It was drafted by a 50-member committee including only two representatives of Islamist parties. The Muslim Brotherhood was not represented. Therefore, an Islamist coalition led by the Muslim Brotherhood called for a boycott and “civilized peaceful protests” during the two-day referendum. Many of Egypt’s secular opposition joined the protests against the government and the new charter. On the first day of voting, nine people were killed in clashes between security forces and those who opposed the new constitutional amendments. On 18 January 2014, the Supreme Electoral Committee announced that 98.1 per cent of Egyptians voting in the referendum approved the amended national charter, with a turnout rate of 38.6 per cent. The new constitution will boost military powers, allowing the army to appoint a defence minister for the next eight years. It also allows civilians to be tried before military courts. It also stipulates that the military's budget will be beyond civilian oversight. Critics said the new constitution will strengthen state institutions that defied Morsi: the military, the police and the judiciary at the expense of the people. US-based Democracy International (DI), the largest international organization that monitored the referendum, expressed “serious concerns” about the political climate, which virtually guaranteed a Yes vote. “There was no real opportunity for those opposed to the government’s roadmap or the proposed constitution to dissent,” the statement noted, citing “a backdrop of arrests and detention of dissenting voices”.
The previous referendum dates back to 19 March 2011, one month after the revolution.
Between 18 October and 22 November 2015, elections for the House of Representatives were held in Egypt in two rounds. These were the first elections after the 2014 constitution. 5420 independent candidates and 600 party-based candidates representing 84 parties ran in the elections. Political parties formed coalitions in order to yield as many candidates as possible on the party-based lists, including the Al-Sisi loyalist ‘For The Love Of Egypt’ coalition, that was the only coalition to run in all constituencies.
In the first round, held between 18 to 19 October, voter turnout was 26.56 per cent. For The Love Of Egypt managed to win all 60 party-based seats, while only 4 independent candidates were elected directly. During the run-offs for the first round on 27 and 28 October, the other independent candidates were elected, most of whom were backed by political parties. Candidates backed by the liberal Free Egyptians Party won 41 seats, candidates backed by the pro-regime the Nation’s Future party won 26 seats, candidates backed by the liberal Wafd Party won 16 seats and candidates backed by the Salafist Nour Party won 8 seats. Candidates backed by the Egyptian Social Democratic Party managed to gain 3 seats. Of the 284 seats elected in the first round, a record of 32 seats was secured by the 110 women running in the first round and 16 seats by Copts. In the second round, held between 22 and 23 November, voter turnout was slightly higher with 29.83 per cent. The 'For the Love of Egypt' again managed to win all the party-based seats, gaining 120 seats in parliament in total. Only 9 independent candidates managed to be elected directly, while the remaining MPs were elected in the run-offs. After the run-off, the Free Egyptians party-backed candidates won 24 seats, candidates backed by the Future of the homeland party won 17 seats, candidates backed by the Wafd party won 16 seats and candidates backed by the Nour party won 3 seats. In total, women secured 87 seats in the 596 member parliament (6.8 per cent), of which 56 were elected on party-based lists, 17 ran as independent candidates, and 14 were appointed by the president. This marks a historic high number of women in parliament.
|Party||Seats in parliament|
|Free Egyptians Party||65|
|Nation's Future Party||53|
|Homeland Defenders Party||18|
|Republican Peoples Party||13|
|Democratic Peace Party||5|
|Egyptian Social Democratic Party||4|
|Egyptian National Movement Party||4|
|Modern Egypt Party||4|
|Other (7) political parties||15|
|No party Affiliation||350|
Dozens of violations were reported during the campaigning and election day, mainly bribery. Various observer missions observed the elections, including the international-local Maat foundation. According to their spokesperson violations were reported in both rounds but “candidates were well prepared for the second round; they avoided repeating the mistakes of the first round and used creative methods of bribery”. The Journalists against Torture Observatory (JATO) said they reported 104 cases of violations against journalists during the second round of elections. The most violations consisted of preventing journalists to properly cover the elections. During the election period, a local Nour candidate was shot in North Sinai. After the killing five candidates withdrew from the elections in North Sinai. There were more reports of violence being used against Nour candidates, as well as reports of intimidation of Copts. Overall, the rate of violence during the elections was in line with the level of violence during the rest of the year.
Between 26 and 28 March 2018, Egyptian voters could cast their ballots for the presidential elections. The Egyptians had to choose between two candidates: Former field marshal and incumbent President Al-Sisi –and ‘puppet’ candidate Moussa Mostafa Moussa. Leading up to the elections, the regime was hoping for a high voter turnout. State-controlled media pressured people to go to the polls. Even stating that voters who would vote would be rewarded, while those who decline would be fined.
Al-Sisi gained 97.08 per cent of the votes, while his only opponent, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, received 2.92 per cent of the votes. This was, in fact, fewer votes than the number of invalid ballots (around 7%). The voter turnout was 41.05 per cent.
Number of votes
Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
Moussa Mostafa Moussa
The campaign was marked by large scale repression of political opponents, activists and journalists. Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, Human rights activists Khaled Ali and Anwar Essmat Sadat, nephew of late President Anwar Sadat, claimed to be pressured by agents of the National Security Agency to step out of the race. General Sami Anan and Colonel Ahmed Konsowa were both arrested after the showed their intent to run. In this hostile environment, several activists and journalists were arrested for “undermining the electoral process’’. Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a leading figure in the Strong Egypt Party (SEP), called for the boycott of the election, citing the undemocratic nature of the process. The authorities arrested several leading members of the SEP in reaction to this boycott. Journalists writing critical pieces related to these developments were harassed or arrested.
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- Alarabiya, Mursi will face Shafiq in presidential run-off http://acceptatie.europeanforum.net/
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- Biographies: Mansour, El-Beblawi, Al-Sisi, Abul-Ghar,Morsi, Mubarak, Madbouli
- Carnegie endowment, "Egypt's Transition" (available at http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/02/06/egypt-s-transition-finding-way-out-of-vicious-circle-pub-47093 / CIA World Factbook, available at http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/eg.html
- Egyptian Association for the Support of Democratic Development: Press Releases November 9 – December 7 2005
- El-Ghobashy, M.: “The Metamorphosis of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers”, in International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 37 (2005) pp. 373-395
- Human Rights Watch: “Egypt: Ayman Nur Trial Badly Flawed”, New York: December 7 2005
- Independent Committee on Election Monitoring: Press Statements / Preliminary Reports November 9 – December 7 2005
- International Crisis Group: Reforming Egypt: In Search of a Strategy, Middle East / North Africa Report no. 46, 4 October 2005
- International Crisis Group: The Challenge of Political reform, Midlle East briefing, Cairo / Brussels, 30 September 2003
- International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance / Arab NGO Network for Development: Building Democracy in Egypt, Stockholm 2005
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- Sullivan, D. : Egypt, in: Countries at the Crossroads 2005: A Survey of Democratic Governance (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), p. 213, available at http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/crossroads/2005/Egypt2005.pdf
- The Guardian, "Egyptian elections: the parties and where they stand - interactive", available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2011/nov/22/egypt-election-political-parties-interactive (14 February 2012)
- The Tahir Institute for Middle East Policy, Election 2015 results available at timep.org/pem/
- The New York Times, Amid Uncertainties on Role, Egypt’s President-Elect Begins Rituals of Office http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/world/middleeast/named-egypts-winner-islamist-makes-history.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all