Manufacturing Consent

Source: Carnegie Middle East Centre

Author(s): Michele Dunne and Katherine Pollock

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Having eliminated all serious opponents for his reelection bid, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi was effectively running against his own declared popularity. A first round of Egypt’s presidential election was held on March 26–28, and may be followed by a second, though that is improbable given Sisi’s lead. How can observers assess the number of Egyptians who supported Sisi during the virtually uncontested first round? How does it measure up against previous elections? And does anyone in Egypt care?

Voters, oddly rational beings, generally only go to the polls when they either believe that their votes make a difference or someone has mobilized them to turn out. Clearly, only the second rationale applied in this case. So, if love of Sisi alone was not enough to mobilize Egyptians, the regime had to create other inducements. Through handouts in the form of cash payments, food, and even Umrah pilgrimage trips, Egyptian voters received direct incentives to go to the polls, in addition to urging from state-run media and employers

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