The Week Ahead: 26-31 March 2018

The Week Ahead: 26-31 March 2018

Egyptian President likely to be reelected. Presidential election tensions heat up in Sierra Leone. Negotiations to form a government in Italy drag out. All in the Week Ahead.

EGYPT:  President likely to be reelected 

  • On Monday, Egyptian voters will head to the polls to determine vote whether to reelect Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The outcome is not really in doubt, as major opposition leaders are either in jail or are choosing not to run for fear of retribution. Many have referred to Monday’s vote as largely stage-managed confirmation. In addition, the only major candidate remaining in opposition to el-Sisi had previously endorsed the incumbent president, and his appearance on the ballot has been derided as an attempt to illustrate competition where none really existed.
  • Nevertheless, the election may have some consequences beyond the official result: the outbreak of violence is possible as Egyptians find legal methods of registering opposition meaningless. The election, or at least the period leading up to it, has exposed el-Sisi to a growth of criticism from within the military and security services. Two military figures that had announced their candidacies both faced the wrath of el-Sisi: one ended up in prison and the other dropped his candidacy.

GRI Take: Despite el-Sisi’s forthcoming victory, his moves prior to the election highlights the possible beginnings of a rift between the president and the security and military services, making future governance more difficult. It could also lead to more retaliatory measures from el-Sisi as he moves to quash opposition.

Sierra Leone: Runoff as Supreme Court orders delay

  • Voters in Sierra Leone are supposed to be voting this Tuesday in a runoff election to decide whether APC candidate, Samura Kamara, who is the current president’s hand-picked choice, or SLPP candidate Julius Bio will become Sierra Leone’s next president. However, a ruling on Saturday from the country’s Supreme Court may have delayed the vote.
  • The injunction requires the National Electoral Commission to not continue setting up the voting process, noting voter irregularities and reports of voter intimidation. The NEC responded, however, by saying it would proceed with the vote on Tuesday, putting the NEC at loggerheads with the Supreme Court.

GRI Take: Monday court hearing may ultimately resolve the issue before voting is expected to begin, but already voter tension is rising and the NEC has repeatedly criticized the police for allegedly interfering with its processes. Should the vote proceed without the Supreme Court ruling in favor of moving forward, it could lead to lingering tensions between the SLPP and APC, particularly if Bio wins, as the APC called for the injunction.

Italy: Negotiations to form a government drag out

  • This week, Italy’s 5-Star Movement, as well a cluster of right-wing parties will hold internal discussions on negotiation objectives in anticipation of formal negotiations next week. On Saturday, Maria Alberta Casellati from Forza Italia was selected as president of the Italian Senate and Roberto Fico of the 5-Star Movement was selected to lead the lower chamber.
  • These selections represent two developments that may foreshadow the future of the 5-Star negotiations: first, they ensured that Forza Italia’s preferred candidate for the Senate presidency would not move forward, and that they split up leadership positions in recognition of the power dynamics. Combined, these two decisions show that the 5-Star Movement, begun as an insurgent anti-corruption, anti-old school politics party has accepted that at least some basic politicking is required. However, the blocking of Forza Italia’s top choice indicates that the 5-Star will only go so far in accommodating the needs of other parties.

GRI Take:  There are now many policy uncertainties moving forward, and the 5-Star’s ideological flexibility could serve it well in the negotiations. The introduction of a “citizen’s wage” to support the unemployed will probably rub the center-right political parties the wrong way, but a shared EU skepticism without going as far as breaking away could help unite the two groups.

Stay ahead of the news cycle with GRI. Drawing on expert knowledge and local sources, The Week Ahead provides analytical foresight on the consequences of key upcoming political developments.

This edition of The Week Ahead was produced by GRI Senior Analyst Brian Daigle and Senior Editor Luke Iott.

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