Robert Fisk on Sisi poll: All hail the Egyptian Emperor – but what about that missing 7%?

Sisi’s ‘victory’ is hardly democratic,  but stability in the region is all that matters

Cairo

NINETY-THREE PER CENT! Let me write that again: 93 per cent! Or 93.3 per cent if you want to be precise.

This superb, stunning, incredible – quite literally, one might say – achievement in Egypt’s presidential election, places ex-Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on a pedestal alongside those other imperishable titans of modern Arab history: Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak, Hafez al-Assad. Indeed, Sisi’s stupendous victory is only 7 per cent less than the total votes collected by that indomitable mother of all presidents, Saddam Hussein, who scored an even more handsome victory of 100 per cent in the 2002 Iraqi presidential referendum.

All hail to the Egyptian Emperor, then, even if he did not quite reach the Beast of Baghdad’s record. But who are we to gainsay such a statistic? Why, only 93 years ago, the British arranged a plebiscite in Mesopotamia (rigged, of course) which elected Faisal King of Iraq with 96 per cent of the vote. From then on, it was a piece of cake for Arab leaders to bring in the masses. Mubarak got 96.3 per cent as President 21 years ago, Sadat got 99.95 per cent for public reform. Saddam – before his 100 per cent in 2002, picked up 99.96 per cent in 1993, Hafez al-Assad 99.98 per cent in 1999. 

No matter that the Egyptian authorities have been forced to admit that the turnout for Sisi this week was less than 46 per cent, which was not quite up to the 80 per cent which the Great Man thought he’d get, and represented only 23.3 million voters rather than the 80 million he confidently expected. The “rival” candidate – the truly luckless Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahi, who called the election results “an insult to the intelligence of Egyptians” – supposedly gained the preposterous support of a mere 3 per cent of Egyptians; a brave man who was beaten up and imprisoned by the old mukhabarat goons – a mark of honour if ever there was one – but why did he bother to stand?

And what now of Mohamed Morsi, the genuinely elected Muslim Brotherhood President who in 2012 picked up only 51 per cent of the vote and who was overthrown by the same man? He still faces years of imprisonment, and perhaps even the hangman. If the Brotherhood is the source of all “terror” (the Sisi version of reality), then few Westerners are going to weep more than crocodile tears at his demise. Nasser had no qualms about liquidating his opponents. Today, a lesser president with a more modest vote might demand clemency. But with 93.3 per cent?

So who will be first in the line-up to congratulate Sisi? King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to be sure. The Saudis, as all the world knows, are renowned for their democratic traditions. Sisi has called Abdullah “King of the Arabs”, a totally unprecedented expression for an Egyptian to make in appreciation of a Saudi monarch – but who can be surprised when Saudi billions must now keep Egypt (and its new President) afloat? Then the other freedom-loving Gulf Arabs will come huffing and puffing along behind the Saudis with promises and praise; minus Qatar, of course, which still prefers – for now – the incarcerated Morsi.

Sisi’s greatest Western admirer, Tony Blair, cannot be far behind with his blandishments. And Obama must surely put his head above the parapet. For a US President who congratulated Afghanistan’s President Karzai after his last, fraudulent election, it should be easy to smile upon Sisi’s assumption of power – with words of American propriety, no doubt, regarding Egypt’s “transition to democracy”. This “transition” is hard to see in a country whose new leader has already announced that Egyptians may have to wait another 20 years for that democracy, but claptrap semantics are still de rigeur in the State Department.

Few will want to remark on the identity of those – more than 50 per cent of the Egyptian electorate – who stayed away, although most appeared to be the 2011 Revolution generation, the young and the liberals who also supported Sisi in his 2013 coup but foolishly did not ask themselves whether he might have ambitions of his own. Popularity is a fickle animal, however.

Yesterday evening, in that most famous and drabbest of Cairo’s squares – that of Tahrir – Sisi’s supporters gathered to celebrate the victory of a President who overthrew his predecessor in a military coup and then sought popularity with vague policies of austerity and appeals to patriotism. Bring your families, the demonstrators were told. Work, family, fatherland. Sound familiar?

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable