Sisi's Egypt: Building Political Legitimacy Amidst Economic Crises

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Middle East Briefs


On November 3, 2016, the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi accelerated the implementation of a set of economic decisions that previous governments had feared to undertake. The reforms—an austerity program including subsidy cuts; currency reform; and increased indirect taxes— have been gradually adopted in the lead-up to an agreement for a major loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Egypt’s decision to float its currency immediately caused the value of the Egyptian pound to crash almost 50 percent against the U.S. dollar. Along with earlier subsidy cuts, these reforms have created a set of inflationary pressures. These painful measures have accordingly frustrated many Egyptians, even as many observers see them as necessary to restore economic stability. In this Brief, Ahmad Shokr explores how Sisi’s chosen economic course might affect his government’s political legitimacy in the coming years. He argues that under current economic conditions, the government will find it difficult to use economic policy as a means of building a durable social coalition that can strengthen its political authority.