Egyptian Senate elections are set to conclude following today’s run-off vote.
After 174 seats were clinched by absolute majority during the first round of voting in August, 26 seats will be contested in today’s vote. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will select the remaining 100 members of the 300-seat Senate.
Despite the electoral facade, the future looks bleak for Egyptian democracy. Since leading the 2013 coup d’état that toppled Egypt’s first democratically elected government, Sisi has cracked down on civil liberties and political opposition, jailing thousands in the process. The 2019 Egyptian constitutional amendments removed virtually any check on Sisi’s rule, leaving many with the view that his government is a reincarnation of the military regime overthrown by the 2011 Egyptian revolution. This understanding accounts for the dismal 14.23% voter turnout rate recorded in the first round of Senate elections. With power secured domestically and robust support internationally—despite the regime’s torture and killing of Westerners—it is difficult to see Sisi reversing course.
Expect the new Senate, established by the 2019 constitutional amendments, to serve as a rubber-stamp for Sisi’s government. Enjoying few binding powers and having a third of its membership appointed directly by the president, the Senate is likely to allow Sisi to reward political allies under the guise of democratic governance.
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Sinan is an analyst for the Current Developments Team and a regular contributor to the Daily Brief. A student of transatlantic affairs, he specialises in political, economic and energy affairs of Europe and the Middle East.