Wednesday,18 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1269, (5 - 11 November 2015)
Wednesday,18 July, 2018
Issue 1269, (5 - 11 November 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Money talks

Commentators say the results of the second round of parliamentary elections will be determined by who has the most cash, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

Al-Ahram Weekly

Campaigning for the second stage of parliamentary elections began on Tuesday and will continue until 19 November, reports Gamal Essam El-Din. Voters in 13 governorates will go to the polls on 22 and 23 November. Run-off rounds will be held between 1 and 2 December.

“The committee’s poll timetable includes a day of campaign silence on 20 November,” said Higher Election Committee (HEC) spokesman Omar Marwan.

“Egyptians overseas will vote on 21 and 22 November and residents of the 13 governorates involved on 22 and 23 November. In the event of run-offs, voting abroad will take place on 30 November and 1 December and in Egypt on 1 and 2 December.”

The second stage of the elections will see 2,847 candidates competing in 102 constituencies. Sixty seats will be filled by the party list that wins a majority in two constituencies: Cairo and the Middle and South Delta, which will return 45 MPs, and East Delta with 15. Independent candidates will be battling to occupy one of 222 seats.

Four electoral coalitions are standing in the 45-seat Cairo and Delta constituency: For the Love of Egypt, the Nour Party, Egyptian Front and Independence Current Alliance and Republican Alliance of Social Forces.

The For the Love of Egypt coalition, widely believed to be supported by Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, is the only force standing in the East Delta and needs to secure just 5 per cent of the vote to win the 15 seats.

The first stage drew to a close on 30 October with three secular political parties — the Free Egyptians, Future of Homeland and Wafd — emerging as victors.

Observers expect the second stage of elections, which includes Cairo and other densely populated governorates in the Nile Delta, to be more competitive than the first.

Cairo, Qalioubiya, Daqahliya, Menoufiya, Gharbiya, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Sharqiya, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai are all included in the second stage. Together, they represent 27.5 million registered voters.

Former judge Tahani Al-Gibali predicts “political money” will determine the outcome of the second stage, especially in Cairo.

“There are high-profile business candidates ready to spend millions to win seats in the capital,” Al-Gibali told Al-Ahram Weekly. “Cairo is divided into 24 independent constituencies which between them will return 49 MPs. And the Nour Party is likely to attempt to make up for its disappointing first-stage results by throwing money into the second-stage campaign.”

Al-Gibali says the Republic Alliance of Social Forces, which she leads, is opposed to both the business tycoons and religion merchants seeking parliamentary seats by spending millions.

Ahram political analyst Amr Hashem Rabie also expects a closely fought second stage. “Cairo includes 6.5 million voters, or 11.5 per cent of the electorate. It is likely to see intensive campaigning as high-profile and wealthy figures go all out to win,” said Rabie.

Talaat Al-Qawwas in Abdeen, Hani Al-Assal in Nasr City and Hussein Megaweer in Maadi are among the business tycoons seeking a seat in the capital.

In the Nile Delta, relations of the late president Anwar Al-Sadat are running in Al-Menoufiya. In the same governorate, Fouad Badrawi, a leading Wafd official, is standing against Tawfik Okasha, controversial TV presenter and owner of the Pharaos Channel.

“Wealthy political parties, most notably the Free Egyptians Party, managed to spend a lot of money in the first stage, circumventing the Higher Election Committee’s rules,” said Gamal Zahran, former independent MP and professor of political science at Suez Canal University.

“In the second round we can expect to see far more of the same kind of tactics. Affluent candidates in Cairo and the Nile Delta will be throwing money around in an attempt to mobilise people to vote for them.”

Though the HEC set a ceiling of LE500,000 on campaign spending for independent candidates, supplemented by an additional LE200,000 should a run-off be necessary, analysts say many candidates overspent massively in the first stage of the vote.

The Nour Party blames its defeat on rivals wielding “political money”, a charge that Zahran says is hypocritical.

The Nour Party, he says, spent millions campaigning in the first stage of the vote and there are rumours it bribed tribes in western Alexandria to get their votes.

HEC rules ban religious or racially discriminatory slogans, and prohibit the use of places of worship for campaign purposes. Infringement of HEC regulations could lead to a candidate’s name being removed from the ballot paper.

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