Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi secured a third term on Monday in an election that lacked viable contenders. Sisi garnered 89.6% of the vote which stirred both domestic and international reactions. The critics pointed out the absence of genuine competition.

The election was held against the backdrop of Egypt’s economic challenges and concerns over the Israel-Gaza conflict’s impact on the Sinai Peninsula. In 2019, the constitution was amended, extending the presidential term to six years and paving the way for Sisi’s third run.

One striking element of the election was its link to the Israel-Gaza conflict. Many voters cited the president’s stance on the “inhumane war” as a factor influencing their support. Sisi claimed that the election was an opportunity for Egyptians to express their rejection of the ongoing conflict to the international community.

However, scepticism about the electoral process was widespread, as several prominent figures withdrew or were prevented from participating. Critics, including Hossam Bahgat of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, alleged the use of state apparatus and security agencies to stifle potential contenders.

Global media reports highlighted instances of voters being bussed to polling stations, the distribution of food bags, and allegations of pressure from employers to cast ballots. Despite these claims, Egypt’s state media characterised the election as a step towards political pluralism, and authorities denied any violations of electoral rules.

President Sisi, a former general, first assumed office in 2014 and was re-elected in 2018, both times securing 97% of the vote. Supporters applaud his infrastructure initiatives, including the construction of a new capital east of Cairo. The critics view the project as an extravagant expense.

Economic challenges, marked by rapid inflation, foreign currency shortages, and a mounting debt burden, have fuelled criticism of Sisi’s economic policies. In a televised speech with minimal fanfare, Sisi expressed commitment to building the “new republic” in line with a shared vision. The economic decisions ahead, such as a potential currency devaluation, remain uncertain.

Despite speculation about economic shifts, analysts suggest that Egypt’s governance structure, characterised by a dominant military presence, is unlikely to undergo significant changes. Repression of dissent continues to be a major deterrent against unrest. Michael Hanna of Crisis Group noted that the government appears unfazed by criticism or electoral outcomes, maintaining a steadfast approach to governance.