Overview: How Egypt's presidents came to power

Mahmoud Aziz , Sunday 25 Feb 2018

Ahram Online below outlines the history of Egypt’s presidents, from 1953 to the upcoming 2018 elections

From left to right: Mohamed Naguib, Gamal Abdel-Nasser, Anwar Sadat, Hosni Mubarak, Mohamed Morsi, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi

1953: First president appointed by the Revolutionary Command Council

Following the ouster of King Farouk I as a result of the 1952 revolution, Mohamed Naguib, the leader of the Egyptian armed forces, was appointed the first president of Egypt by a vote of the Egyptian Revolutionary Command Council.

In 1954 Egypt passed its first post-revolution constitution. The articles of the constitution on presidential elections stated that the president of Egypt is the head of the state and any candidate for the post should be an Egyptian citizen, with an Egyptian father and grandfather, and should not be younger than 45 years on the day of the elections.

Moreover, the constitution specified the president be elected by a secret ballot from a body composed of members of the parliament, along with delegates from upper and lower chambers, who would number three times the number of elected members of both the lower and upper chambers. It also specified that no candidate should be elected to the presidency for more than two consecutive terms. 

1956: Presidential referendum and new constitution

Naguib was relieved of duty by the Revolutionary Command Council in 1954, which announced in November that the president’s post was vacant.

The council appointed the leader of the revolution, Gamal Abdel-Nasser, as prime minister, while the presidency remained vacant for two years. The council also passed a new constitution in January 1956 to replace the 1954 constitution.

The 1956 constitution was approved by a public referendum in June, while in the same referendum Gamal Abdel-Nasser was approved as president. He would be president for 16 years, until his death in 1970.

The 1956 constitution on presidential elections stated that the president of Egypt oversees the executive authority and any candidate for the post should be an Egyptian citizen, with an Egyptian father and grandfather and should not be younger than 35 years on the day of the elections.

The National Assembly is to nominate by the absolute majority of its members the president, and present the candidate for vote in a public referendum.

The term of office shall be six calendar years from the date of the announcement of the result of the referendum, stated the constitution.

In 1958 and 1965 Nasser was re-elected as the country's president by a vast majority of votes in public referendums based on the 1956 constitution and later the 1958 constitution of unity with Syria, by which he was president of the United Arab Republic.

October 1970: Nasser's death and Sadat as president

Nasser died on September 1970, and one month later his deputy Anwar El-Sadat was elected by majority vote by the National Assembly and named the third president of the republic.

In accordance with the country's constitution, El-Sadat’s presidency was put to the vote in a public referendum, with 90 percent of voters approving.

In September 1971, Sadat demanded that the People's Assembly (formerly the National Assembly) suggest another constitution for the country. It was approved the same month by a public referendum and named “Egypt's permanent constitution”, and would regulate the presidential election process for the next 40 years.

The 1971 constitution redefined the articles on the conditions and the laws regulating the presidential ballot process.

Articles 73,74,75,76 and 77 state that the president should be an Egyptian citizen born to Egyptian parents and should enjoy civil and political rights. His age must not be less than 40 years.

The constitution also stated that the president should be elected by direct, public, secret ballot.

In 1976, El-Sadat was re-elected as president for the second term by a public referendum, with an absolute majority.

In 1980, the Egyptian parliament passed a controversial amendment to the 1971 constitution, allowing the president to run for “successive terms.” 

El-Sadat was assassinated in 1981,and vice president Hosni Mubarak was nominated as president by the majority of the People's Assembly.

A public referendum approved him as the fourth president of the country with 98.1 percent of the vote.

Presidential referendums were held in 1987, 1993 and 1999 to renew Mubarak’s presidency, in all cases with a majority of voters approving.

2005: First multi-candidate presidential elections 

Fifty-two years after the establishment of the republic, the country saw the first multi-candidate presidential elections after an amendment to the country's 1971 constitution, which replaced the public referendum system with elections.

However, the amendments to the constitution, which came due to public pressure and calls for political freedom and reform, ignored Article 77, which stated “the president may be re-elected for other 'successive terms.'”

In September 2005, ten candidates ran in the country's first multi-candidate presidential elections, including leaders of opposition parties and prominent Egyptian politicians.

Mubarak, who was also leader of the National Democratic Party, secured 88 percent of votes in the elections. Ayman Nour, the then-leader of Al-Ghad opposition party came second with 7 percent, and Nooman Gomaa, the leader of the historic Wafd party came third with 2 percent of the vote.

There was some criticism of the elections due to the lack of international monitoring and the opposition's claims of political suppression under the years of Mubarak’s rule.

2011: Revolutionary change

On 28 January 2011, crowds of protesters took to the Egyptian streets against the longtime rule of Hosni Mubarak. On 11 February he stepped down, having ruled Egypt for thirty years, handing power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

In March 2011, Egyptians voted in favour of a constitutional amendment to replace the 1971 constitution, which had been suspended in the wake of the revolution.

The approved constitutional amendments stipulated for the first time in the history of the country that "the president of the state is elected for four-year terms, renewable only once."

Based on the 2011 constitutional amendments and following a one-year transitional period, the country's second multi-candidate presidential elections were held.

The June 2012 presidential elections resulted in a run-off round between the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi and Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, with the Brotherhood candidate winning.

Parliamentary elections had been held in the winter of 2011, and members of a constituent assembly were selected by MPs in 2012 and went on to draft a new constitution. The constitution was passed by popular referendum in December 2012.

On 3 July 2013, and as a result of four days of nationwide protests against his rule in June 2013, Morsi was ousted and the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, was appointed as an interim president until a new constitution was drafted and new parliamentary and presidential elections were held.

2014: A new constitution and presidential elections

In January 2014, a new constitution was approved by the majority of Egyptians in a public referendum. It stated that the president should be elected for a four-year term, which is “renewable once”.

The amendments also granted more flexibility to political parties and independent candidates to run for the presidential elections.

The 2014 constitution stated that the president must be an Egyptian born to Egyptian parents, and neither he or his parents nor his spouse may have held any other nationality. He must enjoy civil and political rights, must have performed military service or have been exempted by law, and must not be less than forty years of age on the day of commencing candidacy registration. 

New elections took place in May of 2014; Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the defence minister during the ouster of Morsi, became the country's elected president after securing a majority of 96 percent of votes, against his sole competitor, leftist Hamdeen Sabahi.

With President El-Sisi's first term due to end on 7 June 2018, Egyptians will head to the polls once more on 26-28 March to decide the leader of the country for the next four years.

Short link: