Egypt’s 2018 presidential elections – live updates
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Polls opened at 9am local time on Monday, March 26th, in the first of three days of expected voting for the next president of Egypt. With Abel-Fattah El-Sisi projected to win against his only challenger, Moussa Moustafa Moussa from the al-Ghad Party, the incumbent government is pushing for the highest possible voter turnout to bolster the legitimacy of the election – Egypt’s third since its 2011 revolution. This will prove to be a challenge, however, as Sisi’s victory is so safely secured that he hardly campaigned, and “it is viewed by many in Egypt as a referendum rather than an election,” according to Egypt expert Mirette Mabrouk. 

Since 2005, elections in Egypt have been contentious. Below is a brief overview of the past three elections courtesy of al-Jazeera.

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Follow our Twitter Moment on the Egyptian elections here.
Day 1: Monday, March 26

  • Special military and police forces have been stationed at polls across the country to ensure voters’ security
  • Incumbent president Sisi has cast his vote shortly after the opening of the polls 3:00am EST
  • High-profile votes from Coptic Pope Tawadros II and Prime Minister Sherif Ismail have been cast 4:30am EST

  • The National Election Authority has released a hotline number to field voters’ concerns and reports during the ongoing election 5:20am EST
  • Women and senior citizens have shown significant turnout during the first morning of voting 

“The act of voting for a president who could, ostensibly, be voted out was a novelty. Hosni Mubarak served five six-year terms before stepping down in February of 2011, and Egyptians were keen on taking advantage of their new rights. This election, however, is likely to see a low turnout at the polls.” Read more of Mirette Mabrouk’s analysis of the election in her article ‘The President’s Scorecard’ on MENASource.

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  • Prime Minister Sherif Ismail publicly stated on Monday that only the National Elections Authority (NEA) was responsible for the electoral process and did not face interference from the state. 11:00am EST
  • Ali Haridi, chief of the Egyptian cabinet’s operations room, has said that as of Monday there has been “moderate turnout” for the presidential elections. 

  • Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal denied rumors that citizens would be sanctioned if they choose not to participate in presidential elections. The rumor claimed that people who choose not to cast their ballots for a “non-compelling excuse” would be subjected to a fine.

  • Polls closed at 9pm local time on Monday, March 26th, with low voter turnout reported throughout the evening.

Day 2: Tuesday, March 27
Follwing low to moderate voter turnout on Monday, voting got off to a slow start on the second day of Egypt’s presidential elections. Authorities continue to encourage people to show up to polling stations in high numbers, while opposition groups have called for a boycott of the elections. Election monitoring bodies have estimated that of the 59 million eligible voters, only 13.5 percent showed up to the polls on Monday. While it is unlikely that that rate will remain consistent through Tuesday and Wednesday, if replicated, overall voter turnout would close at 40 percent. 

  • Officials state today that the highest numbers of votes have been reported at polls in the Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Qaliubiya, Assiout and Aswan governorates on Monday
  • Women still showing high turnout on Tuesday compared to other demographics 

  • Despite claims from Egyptian officials that there would be no sanctions for abstaining from voting, state-run media announced to Egyptians today that failing to cast a vote was indeed punishable by up to 500 Egyptian pounds

“I went to vote because I was waiting in line to pick up bread” being handed out by the army, a school teacher told Reuters by phone from his town of Sheikh Zuweid.

As the election has neared, officials have used a mixture of rewards, bullying and cajoling to boost turnout. This concerted drive has been undertaken by regional governors, community leaders, police, schools, clerics and businessmen, according to interviews conducted by The Associated Press.

  • Polls closed at 9pm local time on Tuesday, March 27, with officials from the State Information Service (SIS) praising foreign media for their objective reporting

Day 3: Wednesday, March 28

Following disappointingly low voter turnout on Tuesday, Egyptian authorities allocated incentives, such as financial payments and boxes of food, for eligible voters in hopes of attracting higher turnout. Government authorities in certain provinces, such as the governor of the Beheira province, offered to fix basic infrastructure shortfalls for whichever municipality had the largest voter turnout.

Authorities have also issued numerous threats to increase voter turnout. Egypt’s state news agency reported that those who boycott the vote would be fined 500 EGP. Board members from the street vendors’ union in Cairo were also threatened to ensure that their union members went to the polls, or increased government raids and confiscation of their goods by government officials and police would occur.

An international delegation including US congressmen visiting Egypt to observe the controversial presidential elections were filmed smoking shisha and dancing in the Nile Delta governorate of Monufiya. The election has been dismissed as a sham by opposition leaders and rights groups, and a call for a boycott by the opposition was criticised by government supporters as tantamount to treason… The delegation however reportedly praised the vote.

  • While figures for the third and final day of voting are not yet available, reports indicate that voter turnout has fallen. So far, following only the first two days of voting, voter turnout is estimated to be at about 21 percent, well beneath the 47 percent turnout in 2014.

  • Polls have closed at the end of the third day of Egypt’s presidential election, bringing all voting to an end. 4:00pm EST
  • Sisi is still projected to win by an unquestionable margin, but official records of the election’s turnout, the real measure of his win, have yet to be released.

Final Results: April 2, 2018
In a widely expected result, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won the presidential election and secured another four- year term with 97 percent of the vote.

Last Updated 1:02pm EST

Audrey Bolus
is an intern at the Rafik Hariri Center. Yousuf Eltagouri is an intern at the Rafik Hariri Center. Follow them on Twitter at @audreybolus and @yousufeltagouri

Image: A woman carries national flags as she waits to cast her vote at a polling station during the presidential election in Cairo, Egypt March 26, 2018. REUTERS