Egyptian election foregone conclusion as economy and security set to be main focus

Egyptian election foregone conclusion as economy and security set to be main focus

Egyptians will begin three days of voting today in an election where all real opposition has been suppressed, ensuring incumbent

Al-Sisi AFP

Photo: AFP

Egyptians will begin three days of voting today in an election where all real opposition has been suppressed, ensuring incumbent President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi another term.

The arrest of one candidate, former Army Chief of Staff Sami Anan, has fuelled speculation of a power struggle within the military, the bedrock of Al-Sisi’s power. However, the most pressing issues for Al-Sisi are likely to be the economy and security.

Al-Sisi’s 2016 IMF-imposed economic reforms for a $12 billion loan will continue. However, the program is likely to wrestle with inflation running at 20%, caused by a weakened Egyptian currency which has lost half its value since it was floated in 2016 under the IMF deal. Al-Sisi will likely go slow on any further subsidy cuts, wary of prices-hikes as a risk to domestic stability in a country used to nearly a century of deep government subsidies on water, fuel and bread.

To protect his economic plans, Al-Sisi is likely to clamp down further on jihadist groups based in the Sinai who pose a threat to major oil and gas projects in the Suez worth $10 billion in 2017 alone. Military operations were launched in February targeting these groups: expect these to ramp up post-election.