Ahram Online's guide to Egypt's 2014 presidential polls

Gamal Essam El-Din , Friday 16 May 2014

From the campaign rules to how the polls will be governed, plus a timeline of past elections, Ahram Online takes you through this year's vote

Third phase of Egypt's elections kicks off (Photo by: Reuters)

Historical background

Egyptians are scheduled to head to polls on 26-27 May to elect a new president for the second time in three years.

The new president will be the sixth in 60 years – or since the military removed King Farouk, the last of the Mohamed Ali dynasty, from office in July 1952 and Egypt was declared a republic in June 1953.

Egypt's five former presidents:

Mohamed Naguib: (July 1952 – November 1954)

Gamal Abdel-Nasser: (November 1954 – September 1970)

Anwar Sadat: (October 1970 – October 1981)

Hosni Mubarak: (October 1981 – February 2011)

Mohamed Hussein Tantawi: (February 2011 – June 2012)

Mohamed Morsi: (July 2012 – July 2013)

The election date:

Egypt's presidential election will be held on 26-27 May 2014. The official results of the vote will be announced on 5 June. If no candidate garners more than half the vote in the first round, another run-off round will be held on 16-17 June. The official results of the final round will be announced on 26 June.

The electorate:

Estimated population of Egypt: 90 million.

Size of the electorate: close to 54 million Egyptians are eligible to cast their ballots in the 2014 presidential election – two million more than those registered when presidential polls were last held in May-June 2012.

Monitoring the ballot:

According to article 3 of the presidential elections law, issued on 8 March by interim president Adly Mansour, a purely five-member judicial Presidential Election Commission (PEC) will be completely in charge of overseeing and monitoring the polls from the beginning to the end.

The PEC's five judicial members are as follows:


Anwar Rashad El-Assi (first deputy chairman of the High Constitutional Court).


Nabil Salib Awadallah El-Erian: chairman of Cairo's Appeal Court

Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razeq Hassan: deputy chairman of the High Constitutional Court

Ezzat Abdel-Gawad Ahmed Omran: Deputy chairman of the Cassation Court.

Essameddin Abdel-Aziz Gad El-Huq: Deputy chairman of the State Council.

The PEC's powers and prerogatives:

The presidential elections law (law 22 of 2014) gives the PEC supreme, full and exclusive rights in monitoring all stages of the polls, ranging from the registration process until the counting of votes and announcing the final results.

The presidential elections law entrusted the PEC with exercising full control of the polls and ensuring they are entirely supervised and monitored by local judges.

The PEC is also exclusively responsible for selecting polling and vote-counting stations, preparing voter lists, regulating and supervising election campaigns .

Violators of the PEC's regulations on election matters may be subject to tough prison sentences and financial fines. Article 44 states that if anybody is found guilty of attacking judges participating in supervising the polls, he/she could face a sentence of five to 25 years in prison.

The PEC’s immunity:

The orders of the PEC are immune to appeals, as stated by article 7 of the presidential elections law. Interim president Mansour stressed that “this immunity is necessary upon the grounds that members of the PEC hail from Egypt's highest judicial authorities, and that the door should not be left wide open for appeals in a way that might delay announcing the official results of the polls for as long as six months, thus creating a power vacuum and shaking the country's stability."

The supervising judges:

The PEC announced that as many as 16,000 judges will take part in supervising Egypt's presidential polls.

The PEC also said the above number of judges is quite adequate to cover all polling stations, estimated to be 14,000, and ensure that the principle of "a judge for every voting box" is fully implemented.

Expats vote:15-16 May

The PEC is also responsible for regulating the voting of Egyptian expatriates. The vote will be supervised by diplomatic and consular corps at Egyptian embassies.

The expats vote will take place on 15-18 May. If another run-off round is to be held, expats will be scheduled to vote on 6-9 June.

An estimated number of 681,000 Egyptian expatriates are eligible to participate in the polls.

International monitoring of the polls:

The PEC indicated that six foreign organisations will take part in monitoring Egypt's presidential polls. These include:

The Arab League, the European Union (EU), the African Union (AU), the Carter Center, Transparency International and the US-based Democracy International (DI)

Local monitoring:

The PEC said that as many as 79 domestic civil society groups have been licensed to observe the presidential polls. It also said that some organisations that failed to be accredited were granted guest status, the most prominent of which are the National Council for Women and the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR).

Media coverage:

The PEC revealed that 36 of the 44 national and international media institutions and 13 of the 18 satellite television channels that applied to cover the elections had been granted permissions.

Journalists from 36 Egyptian press organisations and nine news portals were also granted permission to cover the polls.

Two candidates:

Egypt's 2014 presidential polls will be contested by only two candidates: Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabahi.

In 2005, when Egypt held its first direct multi-candidate presidential race, 10 had been listed as official candidates. It was an unexpectedly large number given that conditions for eligibility had been tailored to help then-authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak win the vote.

In 2012, or the year after Mubarak was toppled in the 2011 uprising, as many as 13 candidates entered the election race which brought Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood to power by a very thin margin. Morsi's major rival was Mubarak's last prime minister and former army general Ahmed Shafiq.

On 3 July 2013, Morsi was ousted from office after the army joined millions of Egyptians who revolted again him.

El-Sisi and Sabahi

Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabahi were officially listed by the PEC on 2 May as the only two candidates of Egypt’s 2014 presidential election.

The PEC said El-Sisi and Sabahi had refused to withdraw from the race although rules gave them this right until 10 May.

If, however, any of the two candidates decide to withdraw before the 26-27 May vote, this would not mean that the remaining candidate would win unopposed or be automatically declared the winner. According to article 44 of the presidential election law, if the ballot is contested by just one candidate, the vote will still have to be held and the remaining candidate must get the approval of at least 5 percent of registered voters.

El-Sisi and Sabahi were officially listed as candidates after they were able to meet the presidential election law’s eligibility requirements. The most important of these is that a hopeful candidate must get notarised endorsements from 25,000 citizens in at least 15 Egyptian governorates – with a minimum 1,000 from each governorate.

After the door for candidate registration was opened on 31 March, El-Sisi was able to submit a presidential bid on 14 April, collecting as many as 188,930 endorsements.

On 19 April, or a day before the door for registration closed, Sabahi submitted a presidential bid, collecting as many as 31,555 notarised signatures.


El-Sisi was born on 19 November 1954 – or just 24 days after the Muslim Brotherhood tried to assassinate late President Gamal Abdel-Nasser at Manshiya Square in Alexandria on 26 October 1954.

El-Sisi is Egypt's former minister of defence and army chief. He was appointed chief of military intelligence in January 2011 and was promoted to defence minister in August 2013.

El-Sisi, 59, began his military career in 1977 when he graduated from the Faculty of War. El-Sisi made his post-graduate military studies in the United States.

El-Sisi joined millions of Egyptians in removing Islamist president Mohamed Morsi from office on 3 July 2013. The move won him wide popularity and many political factions later pressured him to run for the presidency.

In a recent television interview, El-Sisi said his electoral platform is based on saving Egypt from three years of political chaos and turmoil and restoring stability and economic activity. He also vowed that he will wipe out the Muslim Brotherhood, foster relations with Arab Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

El-Sisi is supported by the Egyptian old guard political forces such as the liberal Wafd Party, the leftist forces of the National Progressive Unionist Party, the Arab Nasserist party and the remnants of Mubarak's former ruling National Democratic Party. The ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party has also announced its support for El-Sisi.

El-Sisi’s greatest support, however, comes from the Tamarod movement and ordinary citizens who helped mastermind the ouster of Mohamed Morsi.


Sabahi, 59, is a leftist politician who espouses the ideology of late president Gamal Abdel-Nasser, mainly based on promoting Arab nationalism, fighting privatisation and liberal economic policies and rejecting the Muslim Brotherhood. Sabahi, like Nasser, is also against fostering any kind of strategic relations with the United States.

Sabahi, who was detained several times under the two regimes of Sadat and Mubarak, joined many leftists in founding the Arab Nasserist Party in 1992, turning it into the main voice of Nasserists, leftists and Arabists.

In 2001, and after great differences with the old guard leaders of the Arab Nasserist party, Sabahi decided to withdraw, opting instead to form his own party. He founded the Karama Party, which was officially licensed in 2011. Sabahi joined an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood during 2012’s parliamentary elections, with his Karama party being able to win five seats in parliament.

Sabahi himself had been elected twice as a member of parliament (2000-2005, 2005-2010) under the regime of Mubarak. Sabahi won as an independent, representing the districts of El-Hamool and El-Borollos, which are affiliated with the Nile delta governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh.

Sabahi’s strongest political performance came in 2012 when he ran as a presidential candidate and surprisingly finished third after he was able to get more than 4.5 million votes.

In November 2013, Sabahi joined the so-called National Salvation Front, a coalition of secular forces led by ex-UN diplomat Mohamed ElBaradie to lead protests against Morsi's authoritarian policies. At the same time, Sabahi founded the so-called Popular Current.

Sabahi is mainly supported by youth revolutionary movements and other liberal and leftist forces. The most prominent of these are the Constitution Party, the Justice Party, the Socialist Revolutionaries Movement and the Popular Egyptian Current movement.

Campaigning and voting slogans:

 El-Sisi’s campaign is being run under the slogan “Long Live Egypt”

Sabahi’s campaign picked the title “One of Us” as its slogan.

Campaigning and voting symbols:

While El-Sisi was granted the “star” as his campaign and voting symbol, Sabahi selected the “eagle” as his.

Rules for the 2014 presidential polls:

The rules of Egypt’s 2014 presidential elections were released on 30 March. They form part of the post-Morsi constitution (officially promulgated on 18 January) and the presidential election law (law no.22/2014, officially passed by interim president Mansour on 8 March).

The rules:

1. Candidates must be born to Egyptian parents, they or their spouse may not hold dual nationality and may not be married to a foreigner. They must not be less than 40 years old.

2. In order to be nominated, candidates must secure the recommendations of 25,000 voters from at least 15 Egyptian governorates (or provinces) with a minimum of 1,000 recommendations per governorate. The 25,000 recommendations must be officially documented by public notary offices affiliated with the justice ministry.

3. Candidates must submit a detailed statement about their wealth and must have performed military service or have been exempted from it. They must also undergo medical examination to certify they are free from any serious physical diseases or mental disorders.

Registration date:

31 March – 20 April

According to the PEC, the formal registration process for presidential candidates started on 31 March and lasted until 20 April. This 20-day period was adopted to give candidates adequate time to collect the required number of 25,000 recommendations from 15 governorates.


3-23 May

According to the PEC’s rules, campaigning for the presidential polls officially began on 3 May and will last until midnight of 23 May.

Funding of presidential election campaigns:

According to the PEC’s rules, presidential candidates will be obliged to open a bank account with the objective of funding their election campaigns. The account will be opened in Egyptian pounds and at only two state-owned banks: the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr.

The PEC set a ceiling for campaign funding in the first round of the presidential election at LE20 million per candidate. In case of a run-off, candidates may not spend more than LE5 million on campaigning.

The PEC indicated that the funding will be overseen by the Central Auditing Agency (CAA). Each candidate will be obliged to give the PEC firsthand information about how many cash donations they've received and how the money was spent. The two candidates will also have to provide the PEC with a statement about how much funding they obtained within 15 days after the announcement of the results of the election.

The PEC stressed that candidates are strictly forbidden from obtaining foreign funding for spending on their campaigns.

It is also illegal for presidential candidates to use places of worship to promote themselves. The campaigns must not violate the private lives of other candidates or stir up issues that might spark sectarian strife.

The two candidates are not allowed to raise religious slogans.

The presidential election law (law No.22/2014)


When former president Hosni Mubarak amended Egypt’s 1971 constitution for the first time in 2005 to introduce the country’s first direct multi-candidate presidential election, a law was passed to regulate the poll (law 173/2005).

The law was amended again in 2007 when new constitutional amendments were passed to regulate presidential elections and other political and economic issues.

When Mubarak was ousted from office on February 2011 and a constitutional declaration was announced on 30 March 2011, the 2005 presidential election law was amended again. The law was issued by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on 21 January 2012 after it was revised by the High Constitutional Court.

The law was amended again by the Islamist-dominated parliament in 2012. After Morsi was removed from office in 2013, however, a new constitution was passed, changing Egypt’s presidential election rules.

On 8 March 2014, interim president officially passed a new presidential election law (law 22 of 2014) to be in line with the new constitution. The law was drafted by a panel of legal and constitutional experts. Most local political forces approved the law, with the exception of granting the PEC immunity to appeals.

A timeline of Egypt’s major political and constitutional developments 

1805-1952: Until the military revolution on 23 July 1952, Egypt had been under the hereditary rule of the family of Mohamed Ali, who took power in 1805. King Farouk, the last of the Mohamed Ali dynasty, was ousted from power and Egypt was declared a republic on 18 June 1953.

1953-1954: Army General Mohamed Naguib was selected by the army to be head of the ruling military junta. Naguib, however, was removed from office in November 1954 by Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the real architect of the 1952 military revolution. Nasser was appointed chairman of the Revolution’s Leadership Council in 1954 for a transitional period of two years.

September 1956: A new constitution which allowed Egyptians to approve or reject a presidential candidate via a public referendum was promulgated. Nasser was elected president in 1956, gaining 99.9 percent of the vote. He was the only candidate.

1970-2005: Nasser died on 28 September 1970 and was replaced by Anwar Sadat, who introduced a new constitution in September 1971, keeping the yes/no referendum system in place but stipulating that a candidate had to be first approved by two-thirds of parliamentary deputies. Sadat won a new term of office in the presidential referendum of September 1976.

6 October 1981: Sadat was assassinated during a military parade and was succeeded by his deputy Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak was elected president of Egypt in a yes/no referendum, gaining 98 percent of the vote. Mubarak was subsequently re-elected four times by yes/no referendums in the first 24 years of his rule.

Under US pressure, led by former US president George W Bush in 2005, Mubarak was forced to amend Article 76 of the 1971 Constitution, replacing the yes/no referendum system with the first direct multi-candidate presidential election. Mubarak, supported by his authoritarian ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), swept the presidential poll, winning 88 percent of the vote in September 2005.

2011 - On 11 February 2011, Mubarak was ousted from power after an 18-day uprising led by a new generation of pro-democracy youth. The military took over and put an interim "constitutional declaration" to a public referendum on 19 March 2011. It was approved by 77 percent of Egyptians in a free and fair poll.

2012: A two-house parliament (the People’s Assembly and Shura Council) were elected, with the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultraconservative Nour Party gaining the majority of votes. They occupied around 71 percent of seats of the People’s Assembly.

June 2012: On 14 June 2012, the High Constitutional Court ruled that the People’s Assembly must be dissolved because the election law had been drafted in an unconstitutional way.

30 June 2012: Mohamed Morsi, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, won the presidential election.

30 June 2013: Millions of Egyptians, led by the National Salvation Front and the Tamarod movement, took to the streets, asking that Morsi be removed from office, the chairman of the High Constitutional Court be appointed as interim president and that a new political roadmap be adopted.

3 July 2013: Morsi was ousted from office and Adly Mansour, chairman of the High Constitutional Court, was appointed interim president of Egypt.

8 September 2013: A 50-member committee began drafting a new constitution.

18 January 2014: A new constitution was officially promulgated, stating that procedures for holding presidential and parliamentary elections begin within six months.


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