by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Egypt pins hope on the late-May presidential polls and the election of a new president to help restore security and stability for the turmoil-stricken country.
Dire need for security and stability after three chaotic years that saw the ouster of two presidents is expected to motivate a lot of Egyptians to vote for strongman ex-military chief Abdel- Fattah al-Sisi as president.
Sisi, who led the ouster of Islamist and first democratically- elected president Mohamed Morsi last July, is anticipated to make an easy win over his sole rival, leftist leader Hamdeen Sabahy, in the first post-Morsi presidential polls slated for May 26 and 27.
The polls are regarded by most experts as "exceptional" as it will legitimize the post-Morsi future roadmap if it results in a president who convinces the world that he has come to office according to the popular will.
"Most voters are expected to vote for Sisi as a strongman of a military background who can restore security and stability for the country," said Hasan Nafaa, a political science professor from Cairo University.
Nafaa insisted that restoring security and stability is "the basic compass for votes" although Egypt is suffering a major economic crisis represented in an alarming budget deficit, declining foreign currency reserves, growing debts and sliding tourism revenues.
"The crisis is not merely financial, but it is a security crisis in the first place," the professor said, stressing that if social order is restored, the economic issue will automatically be resolved.
Sisi garnered a staggering 94.5 percent of the votes cast by more than 300,000 overseas Egyptians in 124 countries a week before the main home presidential polls.
Nafaa said that the dire need for security and stability in Egypt increases Sisi's chances for victory and heightens his popularity among Egyptians as seen from their everyday talk in the street.
"I prefer Sisi because he is the man of hard missions," 49-year- old Rabie told Xinhua in a street in Cairo. "We cannot go without a military man who knows everything about the country inside out."
Since Morsi's removal, security forces have launched a massive crackdown on Morsi's loyalists as well as anti-government protesters regardless of their affiliation. Many leading youth activists are currently in jail for joining such protests.
Some Egyptians fear that the country might give up the dream for democracy and return to autocratic rule and police state under Sisi due to his support of anti-protest law and security crackdowns.
"These are legitimate fears," Nafaa said, arguing that a lot of Egyptians are willing to give up some of their freedom for the sake of stability and economic recovery.
"However, I do not think the youth in Egypt will accept the country returning to a police state like that of ex-president Hosni Mubarak who was toppled by mass protests in January 2011," the professor said.
Nafaa urges the coming president to establish a democratic rule in Egypt, "otherwise failure will be his destiny."
Adel Sabry, editor-in-chief of Masr al-Arabia online newspaper, expressed belief that "many people started to lose faith in the democratic path in Egypt and preferred to withdraw from politics and take the watcher's seat."
With regards to the future of the currently-blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood group, from which Morsi hailed, many experts believe that the coming president should find a political initiative to include them in the country's future political life.
Sisi and Sabahy said earlier that there would be no presence for the group under their leadership, yet Sisi attributed recent terrorist activities to the Brotherhood while Sabahy said the group will not receive "mass punishment" and promised to release all "political prisoners" if he is elected president.
Sabry said the coming leadership is unlikely to be able to obliterate the 80-year-old group that survived and reached presidency, although it has been banned almost through its history.
Despite Sisi's massive popularity, his opponents are divided into two sections -- the revolutionary youth who see that the authority is practicing random arrest and crackdown on thousands of protesters regardless of their affiliation, and Morsi's loyalists who have been labeled by the interim leadership as " terrorists."
Those people will either boycott the elections or cast their votes in favor of Sabahy, who promises them to revive freedom and justice.
"I believe in Sabahy, although I appreciate Sisi. We need civilian rule that takes care of science and education, because military rule has its disadvantages and it's not present in developed countries," Ahmed Bishbishi, a 24-year-old fresh engineer, told Xinhua.
Anticipated moral and financial support from major Gulf States, like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, is among the factors that make Sisi outweigh Sabahy in the presidential balance.