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Egypt

Elections, A Favorite Prop For Strongmen

Even the most anti-democratic election can reveal much about the system.

Rally at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.
Rally at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.
Amro Ali

CAIRO — Why would Egypt waste tens of millions of pounds on posters and banners for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, when his rivals were muzzled and no credible candidate stood to challenge him?

After all, these posters cost real money, mostly paid for by businesses — money that could have been better spent on hospitals and schools, or even the government's Tahya Masr (Long Live Egypt) philanthropic fund. But the costly flooding of images across cities makes sense when one considers them to be a symptom of a deeper pathology, one in which political depotism elevates the ruler's will and passion over rational action and debate and scuffles public welfare by turning the citizenry into a homogenous mass without any real representation. But even the most anti-democratic election can reveal much about the system and its key players.

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