There is really only one possible outcome to Egypt’s much-delayed parliamentary election when people begin voting later this month — a body loyal to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Phased voting for Egypt’s first parliament since Sisi overthrew Mohamed Morsi in 2013 will be held over six weeks starting on October 17.
“We want a strong parliament that supports the president in achieving his plans to develop the country,” said journalist Moustafa Bakri, a candidate for the main For The Love of Egypt coalition, addressing a crowd in Qena.
Sitting on iron chairs in a street lined with red brick buildings, the thousands of men listened to Bakri and other coalition candidates in the town around 650 kilometres (400 miles) south of Cairo.
Assuming the mood there is reflected in the rest of the country, a pro-Sisi parliament is a given.
Experts have already said the election outcome is not in doubt: the new parliament will be dominated by lawmakers loyal to the former army chief who deposed Morsi after mass street protests against the Islamist’s yearlong rule.
Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, came to power after a popular uprising in 2011 ended three decades of rule by veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Just weeks after Morsi was ousted, a police crackdown killed hundreds of protesters demanding his reinstatement.
Tens of thousands of Morsi supporters and members of his now banned Muslim Brotherhood movement have been jailed.
Hundreds more including Morsi himself have been sentenced to death after speedy mass trials denounced by the United Nations as “unprecedented in recent history”.
The regime installed by Sisi, who was elected president in a May 2014 election boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood, has also cracked down relentlessly on secular revolutionary youth movements.