Egyptians don’t miss Mursi but confidence eroding in Sisi

Recent poll shows high level of polarization in troubled nation

Joyce Karam

Published: Updated:

Egyptians are getting impatient with their former and current leaders. They definitely do not miss former President Mohammad Mursi, faulted by 83 percent for the problems facing Egypt today. But they are also gradually losing confidence in both the commander-in-chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the state institutions, with no one leader getting the support of the majority.

These are some of the numbers released in Zogby’s latest poll testing the pulse of Egypt at a very critical juncture in its politics. The poll conducted in September, and released this week reflects a high degree of polarization among Egyptians. They are divided on almost everything and everyone, except on how unfavorably they see the West.

The Brotherhood

While the Muslim Brotherhood won elections in 2012, and had Mursi elected by 51.7 percent of the vote, the movement has grown more isolated today. The level of confidence in the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) stands at 34 percent, it is further driven to the right, and eating out support from the Nour party (Salafists), whose numbers dropped to 10 percent.

The numbers in the poll on the issue of governance spells the most trouble for the Brotherhood. Mursi’s one year in office appears to have done more damage for the movement than decades of oppression under the former government of Hosni Mubarak. Today, 83 percent of Egyptians see Mursi’s government at fault for problems facing Egypt, and 66 percent of those identify as FJP supporters.

Another alarming figure is that 50 percent of those polled think the “Muslim Brotherhood should be banned from politics,” while 42 percent call for an inclusive formula to bring the movement into any political solution. It doesn’t help the Muslim Brotherhood either that 35 percent see it as the biggest obstacle to national reconciliation, while 23 percent blame the military.

Impatience with the leadership

“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure” might have been true in Egypt few months ago, when the military rode the popular wave against the Brotherhood and Sisi was the new celebrated hero across the Nile. Today, however, and in light of the clashes, the crackdown on the FJP, and the controversial protest law, the confidence in the current leadership in Egypt is eroding.

In light of the clashes, the crackdown on the FJP, and the controversial protest law, the confidence in the current leadership in Egypt is eroding

Joyce Karam

There is not one political figure that gets the confidence of the majority of Egyptians today. Sisi is in the lead with 46 percent but that is only two points ahead of Mursi who takes 44 percent. Mohamed ElBaradei appears to have lost most of the support he had when the revolution started in 2011, and the confidence in him now is at 6 percent.

Egypt’s military is still the most popular institution and gets the support of 70 percent. But there a significant drop in this number from last July when 93 percent stood behind the army. The Judiciary that is overseeing Mursi’s trial gets 54 percent support, while the police which many blame for violence against protesters gets 49 percent.

The name of the game

Polarization is the name of the game in Egypt. Egyptians are almost split in the middle on how they see the military role in ousting Mursi last July: 51 percent say it was not correct, while today 46 percent are supportive. Also, 46 percent see the country worse off today as a result of the July events, while 35 percent think it is better.

The only aspect that unifies Egyptians today is their view of the West. An overwhelming majority of all parties, 94 percent, view the United States unfavorably. The European Union does not fare better with 86 percent viewing it unfavorably. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the only two countries who are seen favorably by a majority of Egyptians by 58 percent and 52 percent respectively. Only 9 percent of Egyptians view Iran favorably, 19 percent for Qatar and 36 percent for Turkey.

The level of polarization is the most threatening theme of the poll. While 79 percent answer yes to national reconciliation, the rest of the questions show a great degree of partisanship and division. Today, there is no consensus from the majority of Egyptians around one party to lead the way, and no vision for such coalition on the ground in the near future.

Joyce Karam is the Washington Correspondent for al-Hayat Newspaper, an International Arabic Daily based in London. She has covered American politics extensively since 2004 with focus on U.S. policy towards the Middle East. Prior to that, she worked as a Journalist in Lebanon, covering the Post-war situation. Joyce holds a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. Twitter: @Joyce_Karam

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.