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The Riddle of the Sphinx: Why President Sisi Fears the Election


The riddle posed by President Sisi’s words and behaviour is if his regime is performing as well as he claims, why is he so politically insecure? Although threats of terrorism and widespread anti-regime violence appear to be receding, the political crackdown, including upon potential candidates for the upcoming presidential election, has intensified. This reflects Sisi’s vulnerability not to terrorism, but to political reactions against his economic policies. The yawning gap between the regime’s rhetoric of economic success and the reality as lived by most Egyptians could easily be exploited by a presidential challenger, or give wide to widespread protests. The prospects for significant economic improvement are limited for both structural and ephemeral reasons. The president, therefore, will remain Sphinx-like, fearful of entrusting others with political or economic responsibilities, thereby further impeding significant economic improvement that is the necessary but not sufficient condition for a political opening under his leadership.

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