By DONYA HANAFI
A parade, a show of support, appreciation, gratitude, and admiration.
This is what the current Egyptian elections are all about. There is no real opponent for President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, there is no doubt that he is winning; yet, the streets have been bombarded with privately funded Sisi posters for months now. Line ups in front of election centers started hours before the official commencement time, sound systems and DJs are set out loud, people dancing and queuing with flags wrapped around their bodies with their children on their shoulders. The same scenes occurred last week for Egyptians voting abroad, and in some cases queuing in harsh weather conditions and travelling miles and miles to reach their elections ballots.
But why are Egyptians so eager to show their support and make their - not actually needed - voices heard?
It is baffling and confusing, but not for Egyptians. The memory is still fresh of the pre-Sisi era of chaos, fear, uncertainty, instability, and lack of safety & security. These memories are constantly refreshed with every piece of news about Syrian refugees, Libya’s turmoil, & every bomb going off in North Sinai. Not only is the memory refreshed, but appreciation for El Sisi is strengthened and deepened.
The Egyptians are fierce, they are stubborn, and they are politically aware. They adore their army, the army of dignity they call it.” We are at war” is a common statement to be heard, from people eager to show their support, they consider casting their votes in the ballots the least they can do to show support for their beloved army.
Not to underestimate the economic and social suffering they have been going through since last year’s harsh pound devaluation, a blow that hit the middle class specifically hard. Having your net worth dropped 50% over night is brutal! But Egyptians are resilient, and they don’t mind patience – especially now that signs of development have become visible.
The parade of support and appreciation is not only because he was our savior from a doomed reality, but because his economic development efforts are now impossible to ignore. Almost every governorate has some kind of mega project in its final stages of development, almost every family has a member recruited or working on one of these projects, and everyone has used one of the new roads stretching throughout the country.
There are skeptics, and there are definitely opponents, but whatever this elections turnout number is, I believe the message has certainly been delivered.
The author is a 33 year old economist who holds an MA from the American University of Cairo. She has more than 10 years experience working in strategy, policy and development in the UAE and Egypt