Before all those folks out there pop their Tamarind (Egyptian Champagne) bottles to rejoice General Sisi being chosen as TIME’s person of the year by popular vote, there are a few things that they should consider:
A. That other notable winners of the title include Hitler, Stalin (twice), and other controversial figures such as Putin and Nixon, who will hardly be known as defenders of liberty and democracy.
B. That in 2006 Hugo Chavez and Ahmedinejad won the popular vote of Person of the Year, which attests not to their ability as leaders, as much as the ability of the agencies loyal to them to create and control cyber peons.
C. That one should never forget the embarrassing incident of when the intelligence establishment tried to forge an online popularity vote in favour of the late Omar Suleiman.
D. What a shame it is that Egyptians were more mobilized to support a cult following of an unworthy soldier than they were to support the ascendance of their magnificent monuments to the list of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
I am not necessarily saying that the vote was driven by a fee-paying public agency, for I am almost certain that many Egyptians sincerely buy into that cheesy charm offensive often displayed by the General, and that the “impartial” media was able to help create a sturdy cult-following, not only for the General but for all things Khaki. So no, people weren’t forced to vote, nor were they encouraged by any material incentives other than a natural tendency towards subservience.