Moreover, according to the Egyptian Constitution, a president may not serve more than two terms totaling eight years in office, and I doubt this provision can be easily changed any time in the near future. Egypt’s true challenge does not lie in the re-election of El-Sisi per se, but in our ability to establish a presidential election system that is acceptable to all political forces and can last for many years.
The manner in which the election is currently being managed works on strengthening the position of citizens who have lost hope of any genuine political reform. This segment of the population, which has been expanding, is choosing different routes: Its members are either completely distancing themselves from politics or adopting extreme views that aim at using violence to change the ruling regime. Meanwhile, the very few citizens who are still trying to push for reform through peaceful means are clearly heading toward a resounding defeat.
Running a fully-fledged democratic presidential poll will probably not change the result, but it would have a substantially more beneficial and long-lasting outcome for our country.
Egyptians who argue that a “make-believe” election is a temporary solution that serves our needs during the current period are running out of good arguments. They have been using the same reasoning in every election for decades. Furthermore, El-Sisi does not need this kind of artificial support, particularly in light of his supporters’ assertions concerning his widespread popularity.
To persist (as we are currently doing) in planning a tailor-made presidential election will not only raise questions about how Egypt is truly ruled; it also deters international investors from expanding their businesses into Egypt. This kind of election process does not create sufficient confidence in our governing system, which obviously affects international investors’ decisions. We are not even applying Hosni Mubarak’s old policy of empowering a few cronies (by offering them political protection) to encourage investors to expand into Egypt.
The current method of managing the presidential election, with its resistance to the application of any realistic political process, is encouraging Egyptian citizens to express their frustration on social media, where they incite their acquaintances against the government. The arguments these citizens present to their followers at home, and to the international political community, usually have more merit than the viewpoint espoused by the state, which lacks all aspects of elementary wisdom about ruling a country competently.
The Egyptian state believes that it can easily rule Egypt in a manner that suits its policy, driving the country toward the destination it desires, while imposing its tactics on our population of nearly 100 million inhabitants. This approach overlooks the fact that a tiny, determined percentage of this large population, working on foiling the state’s strategy, could easily constitute a solid blockade in the face of its plans. This segment would not emerge if the state ran an objective election.
Prior to blaming citizens and accusing them of working against the state, we should ask whether we have provided them with a genuine political path to pursue. Enabling only one or two candidates to compete for the presidency in a show election with a predetermined outcome makes it very difficult to convince Egyptians, and the world, that Egypt is running a free and fair election.
Running a fully-fledged democratic presidential election would probably end in the same result — but it would have a substantially more beneficial and long-lasting outcome for our country.
• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom.