The winner, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former army field marshal, was universally perceived as the candidate of the state, the political establishment and the business elite, and his victory had been so widely expected that it was almost a formality. Election officials said Thursday that Mr. Sisi’s only opponent, Hamdeen Sabahi, had won less than 3 percent of the vote. He finished basically tied with the number of ballots that had been defaced to protest what critics called the undemocratic climate and limited choices.
Supporters of Mr. Sisi counted on the election to legitimize his leadership after the military ouster last summer of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, considered Egypt’s first fairly elected leader. Officials said Thursday that about 47 percent of the roughly 54 million eligible voters had cast ballots, giving Mr. Sisi 23.9 million votes. By comparison, Mr. Morsi received about 13.2 million votes in 2012, in a close and competitive race against another former general, Ahmed Shafik.
The strong turnout followed days of public hand-wringing about the apparent emptiness of the polling stations. The absence of voters was so conspicuous on the first two scheduled days of balloting that election officials took the extraordinary step of adding a third day at the last minute, to strengthen the total turnout.
Both teams of foreign observers faulted the last-minute addition of a third day as a needless irregularity that raised doubts about the credibility of the process and the independence of the election authorities. Mr. Bjornlund of Democracy International said his observers had seen no impediments to voting on the first two days that might have justified a third day, and the European Union delegation said the third day “caused unnecessary uncertainty in the electoral process. Egyptian officials said supervision of the government’s High Presidential Election Commission, composed of senior judges, was politically independent and assured the integrity of the vote. But in previous Egyptian elections the best checks on fraud were parallel counts by independent political groups — principally the Muslim Brotherhood — as well as the close monitoring of representatives of opposing campaigns.
Source: New York Times