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Egypt's Sisi wins the presidency easily, unsatisfactorily

Jonathan Rashad/Getty Images

The good news for Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is that after a three-day election, he won Egypt's presidency with 92 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results released by his campaign early Thursday. He crushed challenger Hamdeen Sabahi so badly that the leftist political activist came in third place in a two-man race, losing to defaced and otherwise invalid ballots, essentially votes for none of the above.

That bad news for Sisi is that voter turnout was estimated at an embarrassingly low 40 percent. Sisi's camp had hoped — and predicted — that turnout would top the 52 percent in Egypt's last election, the runoff vote that brought the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi to power in 2012. And turnout only reached the 40 percent threshold because the government extended voting by a day, gave Egyptians a last-minute national holiday on Tuesday, and threatened voters with fines and slurs for not voting.

So Sisi won the big prize, the presidency, but the former field marshal will govern with neither a strong mandate nor the perceived legitimacy of having expunged the stain of orchestrating the coup that ousted Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president.