"Only Me": Repression, Legal Engineering, and State-Managed Elections in Sisi’s Egypt

Chapter in the Routledge Handbook on Elections in the Middle East and North Africa, ed. by Francesco Cavatorta and Valeria Resta

“If you really love Egypt ... listen to only me,” said President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi in a memorable televised remark in 2016. Al-Sisi’s comment aptly summarizes the hallmarks of his rule: personalism, nationalist rhetoric, and a complete intolerance for opposing political viewpoints. The latter trend is heavily pronounced in the electoral arena, which the Sisi regime has structured to undermine opponents and reward allies. This chapter examines the strategies Sisi employed to shut serious competitors out of electoral contests, namely the 2014 and 2018 presidential elections, and the 2015 and 2020 legislative elections. It also identifies the political challenges and goals that shaped the regime’s management of each of the four elections.


This Handbook analyzes elections in the Middle East and North Africa and seeks to overcome normative assumptions about the linkage between democracy and elections.

Structured around five main themes, contributors provide chapters detailing how their case studies illustrate specific themes within individual country settings. Authors disentangle the various aspects informing elections as a process in the Middle East by taking into account the different contexts where the electoral contest occurs and placing these into a broader comparative context. The findings from this Handbook connect with global electoral developments, empirically demonstrating that there is very little that is “exceptional” about the Middle East and North Africa when it comes to electoral contests.

Routledge Handbook on Elections in the Middle East and North Africa is the first book to examine all aspects related to elections in the Middle East and North Africa. Through such comprehensive coverage and systematic analysis, it will be a key resource for students and scholars interested in politics, elections, and democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.