The Election in Egypt That Gives Voters No Choice

By: Yasin Aktay*

Egypt will go to polls on Mar. 16-18 for presidential elections. I am using the word “elections” only as an expression. Some call the events that will be held on that day an “election,” and all newscasts cover it in that way. However, in reality, no choices are offered to voters. With the arrest of all candidates and possible candidates during or before candidacy, Egypt will go to the polls with a single candidate. The voter is left with no choice other than voting for Sisi, who came to office by toppling President Muhammad Morsi, a leader that came to power with a real election five years ago.

Using or not using this choice will make no difference. That is to say, perhaps the majority of the Egyptian people will not prefer going to polls for an election that doesn’t have the characteristics of an election and won’t affect the results anyway.

They won’t prefer to go to the polls because they neither have any hope of changing the result nor want to legitimize such a mockery. However, even this will not change anything because even the voter turnout is be very low, what is going to happen is obvious. Since the votes will be cast openly and then be counted in secret in the election that is slated to last for three days, so that even if people dare to cast an “unfavorable” vote, their choice will be “corrected” or voter turnout will be measured by polling clerks on the third day.

Just like it was done in the election theatre right after the military coup four years ago. At the time, since it was understood that the voter turnout would be below ten percent, at the end of the second day of the election which was held against Sisi’s fake presidential candidate and was previously announced to be two days, it was extended for one day and on the third day the turnover “was raised” to 47 percent (now the election period has been predetermined as three days with caution).

Of course, predictably this process has ended up with a 97 percent vote in favor of Sisi. Just like it used to be in the old days… Election results up to hundred percent is the tragi-comical scenes of the countries that have experienced the Arab Spring. We have to congratulate Sisi for sure since he has outdone all other dictatorships in the Middle East in terms of oppression and arbitrary and reckless treatment.

He is doing what he wants in the cruelest and reckless way ever, not feeling the need to answer before the public or the international society at all. He is such a useless illusionist to simulate the grassroots support as 99 while it has decreased to around 1 percent. He is useless because he cannot succeed in deception, what he can do is just doing what he wants to by brute force.

The rope between the people and government structures, which supported Sisi at first but now say “it’s a bit much,” is gradually becoming thinner. Now there is a mass expectation about where and when it will break off.

A scene from Egypt is showing the view in the sharpest way.

A short while after the coup in 2013, football matches started to be played without spectators because the majority of the chants soaring over the tribunes become chants against putschists instead of the game itself. In this situation, a spectator ban of an entire year was imposed instead of just one or two weeks.

Recently spectators were allowed into the football tribunes for the first time after four years. The fears came true again in the football match of Nadi-Ehli, which has the largest fan base, and the spectators cheered and shouted slogans protesting Sisi and the coup. Slogans such as “Dictator! We told you, what we need is freedom, freedom, freedom” and “Cruel order! Enough is enough! What I want is obvious; freedom, freedom, freedom” were chanted loudly throughout the match.

Of course, when this is feared, it is not difficult to guess what will follow it. Sisi started a new mass wave of arrests right after the game for those who were involved in the incident.

Despite all the oppression, these protests reflect not only the attitude and emotions of the political opposition but also of the Egyptian people. The result of the election being definite even after such a scene crushes ordinary Egyptians.

Some may still be beating their breasts about why we are at loggerheads with Egypt. If they sincerely think about this in terms of the gains of Turkish foreign policy, I just want to remind them that Egypt is not a state that is capable of thinking and considering the interests of its own country and therefore there is nothing to win by maintaining good relations with those who are representing the state authority. Because those who cannot comprehend the interests of their own country have nothing to give to others.

Leaving aside the question of how much he represents his people, there is a leader whose next move is unpredictable and who is bereft of sound logic.

Those who collaborate with him are condemned to resemble him. However, the principled and persistent attitude of Turkey in Egypt led it to win the hearts of not only Egyptians but also all peoples of the region.

The hearts of those who will sooner or later take the lead in their own country… It’s befitting of Turkey to aim for that special place in their hearts. No matter what anyone says…

*Yasin Aktay is a member of the Turkish parliament and a leading figure of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) in Turkey. (Published in Yeni Şafak Turkısh newspaper March 10 2018)