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HomeMiddle EastPoll Finds Only Narrow Majority Supports Egypt’s Expected Big Winner

Poll Finds Only Narrow Majority Supports Egypt’s Expected Big Winner

CAIRO — The former general who is universally expected to win a landslide victory in next week’s presidential election has the support of only a narrow majority of Egyptians, according to a poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.

The poll is the most significant measurement of Egyptian public opinion since the former general, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, led the ouster last summer of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s first freely elected leader.

The current military-backed government has cited a day of massive street protests against Mr. Morsi last June 30 to argue that the vast majority of Egyptians demanded his ouster, so his removal should not be considered a military coup.

The Pew poll casts doubt on the size of that majority. Conducted in late April, it found that only 54 percent of Egyptians favored Mr. Morsi’s removal while 43 percent opposed it. Similarly, 54 percent of Egyptians had a favorable image of Mr. Sisi and 45 percent viewed him negatively.

In fact, according to the poll, the level of Mr. Sisi’s support is comparable to that of Mr. Morsi just weeks before his ouster — 53 percent of Egyptians said they held a favorable opinion of Mr. Morsi in a Pew Center poll conducted last spring.

Support for Mr. Morsi, now in jail and facing politicized criminal charges, has declined, with 54 percent of Egyptians now viewing him unfavorably and 42 percent viewing him favorably. Yet it nonetheless suggests that Mr. Morsi remains far more popular than news reports in state and pro-government, privately-owned news media indicate, despite the official declaration that his organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, is a terrorist group.

The poll found that four out of 10 Egyptians still have a favorable view of the Brotherhood, down from about 6 in 10 last spring.

Based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults throughout Egypt, the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

The results indicated that a surge in hope after the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 has now given way to a depth of pessimism not seen since the months before Mr. Mubarak was overthrown. Seventy-two percent of Egyptians said they were dissatisfied with the way things were going and only 24 percent were satisfied — figures slightly darker than those of 2010.

After the 2011 uprising, 65 percent of Egyptians were satisfied and only 34 percent were not. The percentage of people who said they were optimistic about Egypt’s future has fallen from 54 percent in 2011 to 39 percent this year.

Even among supporters of the military takeover, only 35 percent are satisfied and 46 percent are optimistic about the state of Egypt. Mr. Sisi’s supporters do not appear much cheered by the expectation of his imminent win: only 28 percent were satisfied and 44 percent were optimistic.

Mr. Sisi’s campaign, however, has some big advantages. Egypt’s state and private media have all portrayed him as a national hero. His only opponent is ideologically similar but far less well known. And the main opposition, the Brotherhood, is boycotting the vote.

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(via NY Times)