Egypt’s trek from Mubarek’s overthrow to a stable nation has been long and arduous. The celebrations in Tahrir Square seem far too distant. The jubilation of the prospect of a genuine democracy seems a dream from last night. In the days since the protests against President Hosni Mubarek began, Egyptians have experienced at least two coups d’état, three constitutional referenda, and two presidential elections.
Is Sisi’s election what Egypt needs?
The Arab Spring that began in Tunisia on December 18, 2010, raced to Egypt, resulting in widespread protests against the rule of President Mubarek starting on January 25, 2011. Tahrir (Liberation) Square rang out with celebration when the Egyptian government announced Mubarek’s resignation on February 11.
For the sake of stability in the face of the resulting power vacuum, the military Supreme Council dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution. The new constitution passed with 77% of the vote. Parliamentary elections followed eight months later, with the presidential elections in May and June 2012. Mohamed Morsi wins the presidency and begins ruling a fractured Egypt.
Unfortunately, two things happened that cast a shadow over Morsi’s presidency, eventually leading to his removal. First, the parliamentary elections were ruled unconstitutional as the military did not have the power to originally dissolve parliament. Second, Morsi issued a declaration on November 22, 2012, that immunized his decrees from challenge, superseding the constitution by placing the president above the law:
All constitutional declarations, laws and decrees made since Mr Mursi assumed power cannot be appealed or cancelled by any individual, or political or governmental body
This declaration succeeded in two things: uniting the opposition and starting more protests.
Morsi’s reactions to the protests showed that he was little better than was Mubarek. In the end, hundreds of protesters were wounded or killed. On July 3, 2012, the leader of the Egyptian military (General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi) removed Morsi from power, replaced him with the head of the Constitutional Court (Adly Mansour), and suspended the constitution. This coup d’état was supported by many across the world. Many declared the power transfer legitimate as Morsi had committed an autogolpe (“self-coup”) in his November 22, 2012, decree.
With Morsi out, the military made Adly Mansour the acting president and set a date for the new election—this election.
The Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed, and many of its leaders (including Morsi) were arrested. This left the opposition without a leader. The only candidates approved by the Presidential Election Committee were Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (coup leader) and Hamdeen Sabahi (presidential candidate in 2012). Public opinion polls had Sisi in the lead, averaging leads in excess of 70% over Sabahi. Exit polls showed Sisi’s lead exceeded 90%. The unofficial results gave Sisi 93% of the votes.
This high vote support caused Sabahi to question the results
On Thursday, Sabahi conceded defeat but said the official turnout figures was too high and were “an insult to the intelligence of Egyptians”.
Sabahi’s campaign said in a statement it had made a legal complaint to the elections committee objecting to “the existence of campaigning inside polling stations” by Sisi supporters, among other abuses.
The Presidential Elections Committee rejected Sabahi’s complaints. Official results gave Sisi 96.9% of the votes cast against a turnout of 47.5%.
And now for the interesting question: How believable are the results? Opposition candidate Sabahi questioned the results. Should we?
A quick method for checking if the results were free and fair (democratic) is to regress the invalidation rate on the candidate support rate. If the counting is fair, then everyone has the same probability of having their ballot invalidated. If the election is not fair, then we would expect to see a significant relationship between the invalidation rate and the candidate support rate. The graphic below is the invalidation plot for this election.
This invalidation plot includes dots for all 27 governates as well as one for the votes cast from outside Egypt (OCV). The relationship is statistically significant at the usual level (p=0.00458). This means that there is evidence that the vote did not follow the free and fair rules. Governates who voted more in favor of Sisi had a significantly lower invalidation rate.
The relationship becomes even more obvious when the outside-Egypt votes are excluded from the analysis, which the following invalidation plot does.
Here, the relationship is even more significant (p=0.0000828). Kafr el Sheikh is highlighted as it does not seem to follow the patter of the other governates. The analysis can be downloaded from here.
These results, along with the results of our analysis of the 2014 constitutional referendum, raise doubts about the democratic legitimacy and the level of corruption of the new government.
After Morsi declared that his actions were above judicial review, some called him Egypt’s new pharaoh. It appears as though Sisi may be Egypt’s new Mubarek.
|Official electoral body||Supreme Electoral Committee (SEC)|
|President||May 26 through 28, 2014|