Egypt's El-Sisi Nabs 3rd Term in Overwhelming Numbers

Even though economy is collapsing, voters hope president can offer security in war-torn Middle East
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2023 9:20 AM CST
Egypt's Leader Easily Wins 3rd Term. It Won't Be an Easy One
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi speaks at Al-Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo on Oct. 15.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi easily won a third term in office this month, winning about 90% of the vote, according to a Monday announcement from election officials. But the Washington Post notes that emerging victorious in the election was the "easy part" for the 69-year-old leader, who's now facing a faltering economy and the Israel-Hamas war next door, among other challenges. Voters came out in "unprecedented" numbers to give el-Sisi another six years—right around two-thirds of eligible ballot-casters, per the head of Egypt's National Election Authority.

The handful of opponents who ran against el-Sisi, who's been in power since 2014, didn't have much name recognition and managed to earn just 10% of the vote as a group. One of the biggest issues facing Egypt right now is its economy, which has taken a hard hit—inflation is now at almost 35%, and nearly one-third of the 105 million people who live in Egypt are mired in poverty, per the AP. These economic woes have only been exacerbated by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and now the Israel-Hamas war. It's the latter that many Egyptians are most fearful of, not wanting to get sucked into that chaos.

Per the New York Times, el-Sisi had seen his initial popularity wane over the years, especially as the economic situation became more dire. "If the price of prosperity and progress for a nation is that it does not eat and drink, then we don't eat or drink," el-Sisi said earlier this year in announcing his intention to run for a third term. But ultimately, citizens' desire for security in a Middle East steeped in turmoil—nearby Libya and Sudan are facing their own conflicts, in addition to what's currently happening with Israel and Gaza—has led voters back to the leader they know. "[El-Sisi's] popularity was affected by the high prices, but after Gaza, [voters] returned to support him again," one shopkeeper tells the Post. (More Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stories.)

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