Post-Presidential Elections: Vision and Action Plan

Gamal Abdel-Gawad
Friday 22 Dec 2023

The issue is not only who wins the elections but rather the overall atmosphere surrounding them, which is different this time.


The presidential elections have concluded, and Egypt stands ready to embark on a new phase with the commencement of President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi's third term. The current political scene has many assuring signs, indicating that our political system is ready for a significant leap forward.

Notable among these are the competition between serious, diverse candidates, and the hurdles typically obstructed campaigners from reaching out to voters. Additionally, the generous free TV time made available for candidates to communicate their ideas, ideologies, and programmes to voters, the honest and professional observance of the relevant laws, and unprecedented voter turnout distinguish this election from its precedents.

President El-Sisi's meeting with his competitors after declaring victory further underscores these evolving dynamics. Perhaps such signs don’t mean much in full-fledged democracies, but they mean a lot for a country in transition like Egypt.

The president's victory was largely anticipated. He was always expected to win in presidential bids each time he ran. However, the issue is not only who wins the elections but rather the overall atmosphere surrounding the elections, which is different this time.

The Egyptian political system and political culture heavily favour candidates with experience in executive positions. The likelihood of the incumbent president being re-elected is nearly certain. These are contemporary manifestations of the historical legacy of the relationship between Egyptians and authority, visible in Egypt's societal and state stability across centuries.

The Egyptian political heritage is characterized by limited participation and accountability. The social reality, culture, and political heritage allow rulers to monopolize decisions. This is not an ideal arrangement. However, it has been the norm across Egyptian history, and our state and society have long been admired for stability. What is needed for Egypt is a formula that preserves that stability and puts an end to stagnation.

Throughout Egypt, there are calls to expand participation and representation, but this is unlikely to make a significant difference in power dynamics. Initiatives from the top of the political system have been always crucial in bringing about the few intermittent periods of political openness Egyptians have enjoyed during the previous decades.

Initiatives from the pinnacle of the political system hold great importance in shaping our political reality, and Egypt seems mature for just such a leadership initiative.

The high turnout rate and the distribution of votes among President El-Sisi's competitors are the true surprises in the presidential elections. They indicate a forthcoming political stage revolving around strong leadership, broader political participation, openness to political and cultural elites, a larger role for political parties, the rise of new parties, and the decline of others.

President El-Sisi's speech following the election results is of paramount importance in outlining his vision for the upcoming phase, especially its political component. The following paragraph is the heart and essence of the president's speech, outlining his vision for the Egyptian polity in the coming period:

"A democratic state that unites its citizens within a framework of constitutional and legal respect, progressing steadily towards modernity and development based on knowledge and technology, preserving its identity, culture, and heritage, prioritizing human development and seeking to provide a decent life, possessing military, political, and economic capabilities to safeguard its national security."

Modernity and development based on knowledge and technology form the president's vision for Egypt's growth and advancement. Preserving identity, culture, and heritage, as expressed by the president, should be placed within the context of his repeated calls for cultural renaissance and reform of religious discourse.

Placing human development at the forefront of priorities is a crucial statement, aligning with the ongoing intellectual debate in Egypt regarding the relative importance of material and human development. The president's words seem to lean towards a focus on human development in the coming period.

Issues related to the Egyptian political system took centre stage in President El-Sisi's speech. The president summarized his vision for Egypt in three terms: democracy, constitutional respect, and the rule of law. The path toward democracy is likely still long, but as long as we respect the constitution and the law, we are undoubtedly moving steadily towards democracy, modernity, and political sustainability.

Both the national dialogue and presidential elections have provided essential elements for progress towards a new political era. The president stated, "We will continue our national dialogue more effectively, benefiting from the rich environment witnessed during the electoral process, which produced diversity in ideas and visions."

The ongoing National Dialogue initiated nearly a year ago, will continuously evolve, ensuring ongoing communication with various sections of the elite. What has happened in Egypt between the National Dialogue and the presidential elections should be viewed as a single integrated process.

President El-Sisi's emphasis on respecting the constitution is strongly linked to the closing sentence of his important speech. He spoke of leading the nation as a responsibility for which he seeks invokes God's guidance to carry out successfully, and to hand over selflessly.

These carefully chosen words reflect the president's long-term vision for a political system that adheres to the constitutional provisions for peaceful succession, making institutions and national endurance the core of his vision.

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