Monday,18 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1268, (29 October - 4 November 2015)
Monday,18 December, 2017
Issue 1268, (29 October - 4 November 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Party affiliates face tough election battle

Run-offs in the first stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections opened Tuesday, with 418 candidates competing for 209 seats. Gamal Essam El-Din reports

Party affiliates face tough election battle
Party affiliates face tough election battle
Al-Ahram Weekly

Run-offs in the 14 governorates involved in the first stage of parliamentary elections took place between Monday and Wednesday. Expatriate voters were able to cast their ballots on the first two days; domestic voters on the final two. Bad weather was expected to contribute to an at best average turnout in many areas.

On Sunday the Higher Election Committee (HEC) announced 418 independents would be competing for 209 seats in the run off. Earlier court rulings had cancelled run-offs in four districts due to irregularities and ordered a new first round ballot within 60 days.

The constituencies affected are Al-Raml in Alexandria and Damanhour, both in the West Delta constituency, and the Upper Egyptian districts of Beni Sweif city and Al-Wasta. The first two are to return four MPs each while Beni Sweif returns three and Al-Wasta two.

Hundreds of appeals contesting the results in other districts were rejected by the courts.

In the first round of the elections, held on 18 and 19 October, only four of the 226 seats reserved for independent candidates were won outright.

Abdel-Rehim Ali, an anti-Muslim Brotherhood journalist and TV host, won in the Giza governorate district of Dokki; Mohamed Hamdi Dessouki, a former official of the Mubarak-era National Democratic Party (NDP), won in Assiut city in Upper Egypt; Mohamed Al-Pasha Ahmed took Dairout; and Mohamed Adam, an independent affiliated with the newly-founded Future of the Homeland Party, won in Kharga.

In the run-offs, which opened Monday and Tuesday for Egyptians abroad and Tuesday and Wednesday for residents, 224 of the individual candidates represented 13 political parties, while 212 were running as 100 per cent independents.

The Free Egyptians Party, founded by tycoon Naguib Sawiris, had the highest number of candidates in the run-offs, with 65 out of 112 pushing through to the second round. It was followed by the Future of the Homeland with 48 candidates.

Only 35 candidates affiliated to the Wafd Party, Egypt’s oldest liberal party, qualified for the run-off round. The Independence Current saw 30 of its candidates make it while the Nour Party managed just 25.

Fourteen candidates affiliated to the Republican People’s Party, founded by former members of the NDP and led by engineer Hazem Omar, also secured places on the ballot papers.

The Conference Party, founded by Mubarak’s long-serving foreign minister Amr Moussa, and the National Movement, established by Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, saw just seven and six candidates respectively qualify for the run-offs.

Misr Baladi (Egypt My Homeland), Modern Egypt, Guardians of the Nation and the Conservative Party — all NDP offshoots — made it through with six, five, five and three candidates. Only five candidates from the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (SDP), founded to promote the goals of the 25 January Revolution, made it through.

ESDP, which won 16 seats in the 2011 parliament, has faced internal divisions that led many of leading members resign.

Leftist political parties are facing a parliamentary wipeout. The Tagammu Party, Arab Nasserist Party, Karama Party and Socialist Alliance all failed to secure a place in the run-offs.

Two left-leaning candidates did make it through. Haitham Hariri, son of the late Tagammu MP Abul-Ezz Al-Hariri, won 24,000 votes in the first round in Alexandria’s densely populated district of Moharrem Bey and Ghorbal. In the Alexandria district of Al-Attarin, long-time MP Nasserist Kamal Ahmed also survived to fight a second day.

Heavy rainfall and major flooding in Alexandria on Sunday saw run-off candidates struggling to get their supporters to the polls. The city had been tipped as the scene of some of the toughest fought run-offs. In the first round of the elections 298 candidates competed for the support of Alexandria’s 3.2 million registered voters.

In the run-offs, only three political parties have the chance to make a real impact. The Future of Homeland, widely believed to be favoured by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, is fielding six candidates as independents while the Free Egyptians Party has five members standing, the same number as the Nour Party.

The Wafd Party, Liberal Conference Party and National Movement Party, an NDP offshoot, each have a single candidate.

The best hope of the Nour Party, which lost the 15-seat Nile West Delta constituency to the pro-Sisi For the Love of Egypt coalition, now lies in the West Alexandria constituency of Al-Ameriya and Borg Al-Arab where three of its members — Ahmed Khalil, Ahmed Al-Sharif and Zarie Meneisy — were standing as independents in the run-offs.

Al-Ameriya and Borg Al-Arab, a desert area populated by tribes loyal to the Salafist movement, is the Nour Party’s main power base in Alexandria.

Following the party’s poor performance in the first round a number of leading members urged party chairman Younis Makhyoun to withdraw from the race in order to save face. The party’s problems were compounded when Mostafa Abdel-Rahman, one of its second stage candidates, was assassinated in North Sinai on Saturday.

Nour members standing as independents in Alexandria face fierce competition from Rizq Dief Allah, a former NDP member and businessman. Dief Allah won 38,000 in the first round in Al-Ameriya. The Nour Party’s three candidates followed with 33,500 and 31,000 and 32,000. Ahmed Sakkar, a member of the Free Egyptians Party, managed just 10,000.

Of the Nour Party’s remaining candidates, eight are standing on Beheira, two in Marsa Matruh, two in the New Valley, four in Fayoum, and one each in Assiut, Qena and Beni Sweif.

The Giza governorate seat of Agouza was another closely watched run-off, with Ahmed Mortada Mansour, the son of Mortada Mansour, the chairman of Zamalek Club, seemingly poised to win at the expense of Al-Ahram political analyst Amr Al-Shobaki. Mansour secured 24,500 votes in the first round against Al-Shobaki’s 21,000 votes.

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