Oct 4 2014
Despite Obama’s ongoing support for ousted Egyptian president Morsi and his dissing of new Egyptian president al-Sisi, Egypt is thriving and Egyptians are feeling good about their future
The Egyptian public’s outlook for their future as well as their economy are starting to rebound and most have a lot of confidence in the new Egyptian government headed by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who along with the support of 33 million Egyptians, overthrew former president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood fascist government.
GALLUP (h/t Jim Y) After a tumultuous year of political turmoil, violence, and at times international isolation (by the United States primarily), Egyptians seem to be turning a corner. The percentage of Egyptians who rate their lives poorly enough to be considered “suffering” has been cut in half, dropping to 16% this June, one year after hitting a record high of 34%. At the same time, the percentage who rate their lives highly enough to be considered “thriving” has nearly doubled over the same time period, rising from 9% to 17%.
Gallup classifies people as thriving, struggling, or suffering according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10, based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10 represents the best possible life. Respondents are classified as thriving if they rate their current lives a 7 or higher and their lives in five years an 8 or higher, and suffering if they rate both their current lives and their lives in five years a 4 or lower.
Since former President Hosni Mubarak stepped down in 2011, Egypt has careened through a series of elated highs and devastating, at times violent, lows. They have said their lives are even worse than before Mubarak’s fall.
And, in the weeks leading up to the removal of their first democratically elected president in 2013, Egyptians gave some of the worst ratings they ever have. The fluctuations of hope and despair are evident in their evaluations of their own lives and starkly captured in other data gathered across this entire period.
Egyptians’ Economic Outlook Improving
Despite hopes that former President Mohammed Morsi would turn Egypt’s economy around, a record 80% of Egyptians described it as getting worse last June. This June, a majority of Egyptians (52%) told Gallup their national economy is getting better. These beliefs were stated before the announcement of the Suez Canal expansion project and its investment campaign, so Egyptians were likely expressing more of a hope for improvement than actual macroeconomic improvements. Not surprisingly, young Egyptians between the ages of 15 and 29 are the most cynical, with 47% saying the economy is improving, compared with 62% of those aged 50 and older.
Majority Shows Faith in Government
In this climate, it is not surprising that more Egyptians now express confidence in the current national government of Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab (70%) than the previous one of Hisham Qandil (29%). Qandil was also deposed last summer in the events that led to Morsi’s removal. Since the cabinet’s reshuffle just days after President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi assumed his post, media coverage has focused on Mahlab’s fast track on economic reform. The media have often depicted an exhausted Mahlab directly overseeing industry, security, and other government operations and processes.
Younger Egyptians remain slightly more skeptical in this area as well. While two in three young Egyptians (66%) are confident in their national government, the government gets support from 70% of Egyptians who are 30 to 49 years old and 81% among those aged 50 years and older.
The Mahlab government’s public-facing approach to running the cabinet has seemed to pay off for now, despite the many challenges (including rolling electrical blackouts) that have brought some parts of the country to a standstill. Egyptians had hit rock bottom in the final weeks of the Morsi presidency. It remains to be seen whether this initial post-Morsi optimism will last, or whether Egyptians will once again turn on their elected leaders for failing to convince them that real solutions are on the way.
If there is one thing that has become apparent, it is that Egyptian attitudes have proven fleeting. Despite the relatively positive outlook expressed in June, if the country does not make major headway on some of the underlying causes of unrest and social disenfranchisement, including unemployment, basic services, and financial and administrative transparency, the tide could once again shift strongly against the current leadership.