Sisi wins 93% of votes cast, faces economic challenges

Sisi wins 93% of votes cast, faces economic challenges

Sisi won 93.3 per cent of votes cast, judicial sources said, with most ballots counted after three days of voting.



By Reuters

Published: Sat 31 May 2014, 12:18 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:33 AM

Former Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah Al Sisi won a landslide victory in a presidential election on Thursday but a low turnout may have deprived him of the strong mandate he needs to fix the economy and face down an Islamist insurgency.

Sisi won 93.3 per cent of votes cast, judicial sources said, with most ballots counted after three days of voting. His only rival, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, gained three per cent while 3.7 per cent of votes were declared void.

The stakes are high for Sisi in a country where street protests have helped topple two presidents in three years. He has presented plans to remedy the economy, suffering from corruption, high unemployment, and a widening budget deficit aggravated by fuel subsidies that could cost nearly $19 billion in the next fiscal year. “All in all the weak turnout will make it harder for Sisi to impose painful economic reforms that international institutions and investors are demanding,” said Anna Boyd, an analyst at London-based IHS Jane’s.

Investors want Sisi to end energy subsidies, impose a clear tax regime and give guidance on the direction of the exchange rate. Turnout was about 46 per cent of Egypt’s 54 million voters, the government said, less than the 40 million votes, or 80 per cent of the electorate, that Sisi had called for last week.

A Reuters tour of polling stations suggested turnout was low. Many Egyptians said voters had stayed at home due to political apathy.

Mohamed El Sewedy, chairman of the Federation of Egyptian Industries, said, however: “The business community is very happy about the results. We need real reform and opportunities ... a guy with courage to take decisions.”

Sisi is seen by supporters as a strong figure who can end the turmoil that has convulsed Egypt for three years since the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak after 30 years in power.

Sisi enjoys the backing of the armed forces and the Interior Ministry, as well as businessmen who thrived under Mubarak and are still highly influential.

Sisi gained adulation from many Egyptians after the ouster of Mohammed Mursi, whose one year in office was marred by allegations that he usurped power and mismanaged the economy.

“The hard work starts here. The last 12 months have been about not being Mursi. Now the new regime has to deliver,” said Simon Williams, chief economist at HSBC Middle East.

One of Sisi’s biggest tests will be the politically-sensitive issue of energy subsidies which drain billions of dollars from the state budget every year.

Businessmen have urged Sisi to raise energy prices even though that may trigger protests, or risk sinking the economy.


More news from WORLD