Egypt’s Sisi has the popular vote, now he needs political backing

Securing political backing is not a political luxury or a synonym for political corruption

Abdel Latif el-Menawy
Abdel Latif el-Menawy
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Following Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s recent statements on parliamentary elections and holding them according to schedule, there is a need to address the importance of garnering political backing and not just settling with popular support.

The massive turnout to buy Suez Canal investment certificates and the collecting of 61 billion Egyptian pounds in eight days revealed the extent of popularity Sisi enjoys in Egypt. Thousands of Egyptians met his call to finance digging the Suez Canal by buying investment certificates and it only took them eight days to do what some expected would need months.

Securing political backing is not a political luxury or a synonym for political corruption

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

Egyptians’ support of Sisi has made itself apparent before, such as when they took to the streets in compliance with his call to mandate him to fight terrorism following the June 30 revolution. It also appeared during the referendum on the constitution and the presidential elections. This support once again revealed itself via financial support when they decided to pay whatever they could afford to buy investment certificates in a project which they seem to consider as their national project.

Real popular backing

This support shows that Sisi enjoys real popular backing. The Egyptians truly believe in Sisi and stand with him against the state’s enemies whose attempts to sabotage the country continue and who continue to kill our soldiers in Sinai. However the question here is: Does the presence of popular backing make political backing dispensable?

This current phase of restructuring the Egyptian state with its new regime needs to be intellectually strong in order to keep religion away from politics and to maintain the sanctity of beliefs. This won’t be achieved unless the president has political backing which supports these ideas and introduces them to the people. Although the president enjoys popular backing, there must also be a political entity that expresses the Egyptians’ desires and their vision of the new regime. This would help maintain the popular backing and will create a connection with it. This will eventually help achieve the Egyptians’ aims, especially as there are upcoming parliamentary elections. If there’s no political backing and just popular backing, the next parliament will be weak and instead of the latter helping save Egypt, it will be a new obstacle preventing the progress of state plans.

Fuel prices

The importance of a political backing was highlighted following decisions to increase fuel prices. Although these decisions were important, some parties exploited them to harm Sisi’s popularity and influence his supporters. Why is political backing important here? Well, it would have explained the reasons behind these decisions. Recent economic decisions are positive but the problem is that the government cannot find a language to address people and explain all about the financial revenues of increased fuel prices. Political backing is important in this case to explain why fuel prices were increased, why funds are being saved and how these funds will be used to develop the health and education sectors. If this had happened, the current controversy would not have taken place.

Securing political backing is not a political luxury or a synonym for political corruption. What matters is how this political backing is managed and what it will provide the state and the renaissance project which Sisi is working on. Popular and political backing will then be the wings of this project and will help overcome all obstacles, leading the state to flourish.

This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm on September 21, 2014.


Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of “Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak,” a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy

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