ARUN RATH, HOST:
We're going to go now to Egypt, where the last three years have brought a constant cycle of protest and political change. First, in 2011, the revolution hatched in Tahrir Square helped bring down Egypt's long-time dictator, Hosni Mubarak. Then elections in 2012 brought the Muslim brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi to power. After less than a year, Egypt's military forced Morsi out of office in a coo. This past week brought yet another chapter. Egyptians went to the polls once again and they elected former Field Marshal Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi in a landslide. He won more than 90 percent of the vote. We're going to turn now to NPR's Leila Fadel, who's in Cairo. Leila this was not much of a surprise, is was it?
LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Not at all. It was widely expected that the former military chief would get the majority of votes. And as the preliminary results show, he got more than 90 percent of voters to vote for him. He's widely popular among a certain part of Egyptian society. A majority really - people looking for stability and who backed the ousting of the former President Mohamed Morsi.
RATH: And the government made a big deal about getting as many people to vote as possible, trying to boost turnout. In the end, how was the turnout?
FADEL: Well, turnout wasn't exceptionally high. It wasn't extremely low either. The preliminary numbers show about 46 percent, which is actually less than the turnout in 2012. They wanted such high turnout as an endorsement of not only Sisi's presidency, but what has led to this moment - a wide crack down here in Egypt that has gone on against dissent, especially the ousted Muslim Brotherhood, who largely boycotted this election, saying this is happening in an unjust, illegitimate environment - still calling for the return of Mohamed Morsi, which is unlikely and also an unpopular call. So turnout wasn't as high as they wanted. And they even took the extraordinary measure of adding an extra day to the election to get more people out there.
RATH: The election of Al-Sisi, this retired general, it sounds kind of familiar. Hosni Mubarak was himself a military leader and an Air Force commander before he came to power. Is this simply a case of Egypt returning to a military dictatorship?
FADEL: Yeah, military men have led this country for decades. Analysts talk about the military sort of ruling behind-the-scenes for decades here in Egypt. And there are concerns that there is a rollback to authoritarian practices in Egypt. He was elected in this election but people say how can it be fair? How can be genuinely democratic when certain portions of society are basically banned, not allowed to participate in that way, if they're members of the Muslim Brotherhood. And also all voices of dissent being suppressed. Thousands of people characterized as political prisoners are languishing in jail here in Egypt.
RATH: And - and would you say that's biggest challenge facing the Sisi government is maybe a lack of popular support?
FADEL: No, he has a lot of popular support among the voters that we saw turn out. He has a lot of Egyptians ready to support him. But the question is, can he deal with all the issues that were the demise of former presidents? This is a country that has a difficult economy, power outages, a huge gap between the rich and poor. So this is a president that's going to have to deal with all the issues that Egyptian's are trying to deal with along with security.
RATH: That's NPR's Leila Fadel who joined us from Cairo. Leila, thank you.
FADEL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.