Egypt: Presidential referenda 1956 - 2005

Updated January 2012

In September 1956, a constitution which allowed Egyptians, via a public referendum, to approve or reject a presidential candidate nominated by the ruling party was promulgated. President Nasser was elected president in 1956, gaining 99.9% of the vote in an election in which he was the only candidate. Nasser's successor President Sadat introduced a new constitution in September 1971, keeping the yes/no referendum system in place but stipulating that a presidential candidate's nomination had to be approved by two-thirds of the Members of Parliaments. Sadat won a new term of office in the presidential referendum of September 1976. After President Sadat's assassination, his successor, President Mubarak was elected president of Egypt in a yes/no referendum in which he gained 98% of the vote. Mubarak was subsequently re-elected four times by yes/no referendum in the first 24 years of his rule (see table below).

Presidential referenda under Mubarak

Year Percentage
Yes No Turnout
1999 93.79 6.21 79.2
1993 96.28 3.72 84.16
1987 97.12 2.88 88.47
1981 98.46 1.54 81.10

Faced with growing international pressure to institute constitutional and electoral reforms, in 2005, President Mubarak called for a referendum to amend Article 76 of the 1971 Constitution to replace the yes/no referendum system with direct multi-candidate presidential elections. The amendments were endorced by 80% 'of the electorate; for details see the 2005 Constitutional referendum.

Table source

ABAZA, K 2006 "Political Islam and Regime Survival in Egypt", Policy Focus #51 | January, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, [www] http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/html/pdf/PolicyFocus51.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 Jan 2013).