Al-Ahram Weekly Online   16 - 22 December 2010
Issue No. 1027
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

A mood of triumph

The ruling NDP was in high spirits this week, after securing a landslide victory in the recent parliamentary elections, Gamal Essam El-Din reports

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President Hosni Mubarak during a meeting with victorious NDP MPs on Sunday

Senior officials of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) as well as 420 of the party's 420 newly-elected MPs met President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday to celebrate the party's "landslide victory" in the recent two-week parliamentary election. A mood of jubilation dominated the meeting with Mubarak, who by no means was disturbed by the nagging protests of opposition parties which called the newly-elected People's Assembly "a flawed parliament."

Addressing NDP's senior officials and its new parliamentary group ahead of the People Assembly's new session the following day, Mubarak said "as chairman of the NDP, I was pleased with the majority secured by the party but as president of Egypt I would have preferred to see more representation by the opposition." In Mubarak's words "you have a lot of hard work ahead of you to improve the quality of services provided to Egyptian citizens and to pass the required laws necessary for equity in the distribution of growth and development," Mubarak told the new NDP parliamentary council. He added that "the NDP is and has been trying to build a new reality and to introduce a tangible improvement to the life of every Egyptian citizen wherever they might be across the nation." Mubarak will address the joint session of the upper and lower house of parliament (the Shura Council and People's Assembly) on 19 December and NDP's seventh annual conference on 25-27 December. For his part, NDP Secretary-General Safwat El-Sherif highly lauded the performance of the NDP in the recent parliamentary elections. "Let me congratulate you NDP MPs for your great victory and you should be proud of reaping the harvest of your efforts after gaining the confidence of the Egyptian people," said El-Sherif, arguing that "in contesting the elections, the NDP was united, armed with new blood and highly aware of new developments in Egypt."

According to El-Sherif, the NDP does not suffer from internal divisions or marginalised young members or did not upgrade its platform. "The success of the NDP in the recent elections was the result of a good mix of factors: excellent selection of candidates, deep respect for citizens and their choices, the drafting of a programme that catered to the needs of the nation, and disregard of those who wanted to exploit democracy," said El-Sherif.

According to official results, the NDP won a sweeping 420 seats (or around 84 per cent), up from 71 per cent in the outgoing People's Assembly. The party-based opposition and independent MPs' share of the assembly's seats has dropped from 124 (or 25 per cent) in the outgoing Assembly to 86 (70 for independents and 16 for opposition), or around 17 per cent.

As a result, the opening procedural session of the newly-elected People's Assembly on Monday was dominated by NDP MPs. Fathi Sorour, a member of the NDP's political bureau, was selected as speaker of the assembly for the 21st consecutive time. Zeinab Radwan, a member of the NDP's political bureau, and Abdel-Aziz Mustafa, a member of the NDP's secretariat-general, were elected deputy speakers. Next Wednesday, NDP's MPs, mostly businessmen, are braced to dominate the leading positions of the assembly's 29 committees.

NDP Chairman President Hosni Mubarak, also acting on his constitutional authority, issued a decree on Saturday appointing 10 members, including three NDP figures. These include Mohamed Dakrori, President Mubarak's legal adviser and chairman of the NDP's Ethics Committee; Samir Radwan, a member of the NDP's influential Policies Committee led by Gamal Mubarak and an international expert on labour issues; and Edward Ghali El-Dahabi, the chairman of the outgoing assembly's Human Rights Committee. The list of appointees included just two opposition figures: Amina Shafiq, a leftist journalist with the Tagammu Party, and Gamal Asaad Abdel-Malak, a political Coptic figure with leftist leanings.

In general, the list included seven Copts and one woman.

The overwhelming majority of the NDP in the newly-elected People's Assembly brought it under a hostile campaign from the opposition. This, however, did not shake the NDP's triumphant mood which prevailed over the assembly's opening procedural session. Ahmed Ezz, the NDP's secretary for organisational affairs and which the opposition took to task for manipulating the election in the NDP's favour, stood up to attacks. According to Ezz, "the NDP's landslide victory was secured because the party has prepared well for the elections and when it says it is proud of this victory it means it because it is the strongest party." Joining forces with Ezz, Moufid Shehab, minister of state for legal and parliamentary affairs and the NDP's assistant secretary-general, emphasised that "the attacks levelled by some who lost in the election should not be allowed to offend the NDP or disturb it." NDP MPs, added Shehab, should feel happy and proud of their success irrespective of any attacks.

Right now, the NDP is preparing for its annual conference, scheduled for 24-27 December. In this conference, revealed El-Sherif, the party will focus on President Hosni Mubarak's presidential election programme. "The next stage, which comes ahead of the 2011 presidential elections, should focus on completing the implementation of President Mubarak's election programme," said El-Sherif, arguing that "this will require coordination with the government." Gamal Mubarak met on Monday with Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif. According to NDP sources, the meeting was aimed at reviewing the coming legislative agenda. This, NDP sources said, will include primarily social and economic draft laws such as extending health insurance to cover all citizens and an amendment of the bidding procedures law to inject new confidence in the real estate investment sector which was negatively affected by the judicial ruling which ordered that the giant housing project of Madinaty contract should be revoked because it violated the bidding law.

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