John Oliver on Egypt's 'Sham Election' - at Least Pretend

'The key rule of a sham election is make it look legitimate'

Image from the latest episode of 'Last Week Tonight,' in which host John Oliver jokes about Egypt's presidential election
Screen shot

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi has been re-elected with 97 percent of votes, the exact proportion that brought the former military commander his first term four years ago, Egypt's election commission announced on Monday - an election that comedian John Oliver joked is the perfect example of how not to stage an election.

Sissi had long been virtually guaranteed victory after all serious opposition pulled out of the contest earlier this year. Oliver went step-by-step explaining how Sissi messed up in running this sham election.

"The reason I know that he's the winner is that he had no serious opponents, possibly because one was arrested and three more withdrew amid reports of intimidation,” joked Oliver.

“The tricky thing is, if you're going to have something that even looks like an election, you badly need at least the appearance of an opponent. And he did get one of those — kind of."

"But the key rule of a sham election is make it look legitimate," and Sissi's projected 92 percent of the vote was further undermined by the low turnout, Oliver said, despite "a desperate attempt to make it look legitimate" by election officials threatening $28 fines for people who didn't vote and open bribes by government supporters.

"Wow, $5 and discount tickets to an amusement park?" he continued. "Say what you like about al-Sissi — and if you live in Egypt, you can't — but it is pretty depressing that seven years after the Arab Spring, he's now trying to win over the voters the same way a divorced dad tries to win over his kids."