CAIRO — With nearly all of the ballots counted, Egypt’s former military chief has won a crushing victory over his sole opponent in the country’s presidential election, his campaign said Thursday. But the results were stained by questions about turnout despite a robust government effort to get out the vote.
Abdel Fatah al-Sissi won more than 92 percent of the vote, compared with 2.9 percent for his opponent, according to a tally released by his campaign. Four percent of the votes were declared invalid.
Sissi’s victory was never in doubt, but the career infantry officer had pushed for an overwhelming turnout to bestow legitimacy on his ouster last summer of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi.
Interim President Adly Mansour said turnout was more than 46 percent, after officials extended voting to a third day Wednesday.
That figure was lower than the 52 percent turnout in the 2012 election that vaulted Morsi to power. It also was lower than the bar that Sissi set in his last campaign interview, in which he said he wanted three-quarters of the country’s 54 million registered voters to cast ballots so he could “show the world” the support he had.
Still, Sissi comes into office with an impressive tally of 23.38 million votes — significantly more than the 13 million won by Morsi in 2012. Sissi’s opponent, leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, received 736,000 votes.
Official results are likely to be released next week.
Sabahi conceded defeat at a news conference Thursday. But he said the turnout figure was not credible, adding, “It is an insult to the intelligence of Egyptians.”
The unusual measures taken by the government to get voters to the polls also raised skepticism about the extent of support for Sissi.
Widespread reports of empty polling stations in the first two days of voting prompted the state to abruptly add a third day, after they had declared the second day a public holiday to free up voters to cast ballots. Officials also offered to bus in voters to polling centers and threatened to invoke a rarely enforced law that would allow them to fine boycotters.
Critics said the lack of enthusiasm at the polls was in part because of apathy among even Sissi supporters, who considered his victory a foregone conclusion. Others said it showed discontent with Sissi, not just among his Islamist foes but also among a broader section of the public that believes he has no concrete plans to address Egypt’s woes and fears he will return the country to the autocratic ways of Hosni Mubarak, who was deposed in the 2011 revolt.